When the pandemic hit, our lives were disrupted in a major way. After a few months we began to ask when everything would get back to normal. Eventually, we began to hear references to a “new normal” that we would need to get used to.
Just what is normal, anyway? The dictionary tells us it is ordinary, typical, or routine. So basically, whatever we have become accustomed to is normal.
During this past year, many of us have, however reluctantly, become accustomed to this new normal.
One only has to look at history to realize that people are incredibly adaptable; we can get used to some pretty terrible ideas and situations. Ideas and practices considered decidedly abnormal less than a hundred years ago are now taken for granted as ordinary, typical, and normal.
From the beginning, God has called His people to remain outside normal society. In Old Testament times, child sacrifice to idols and temple prostitutes were routine. The Jews were called to separate themselves from such abhorrent practices. They were given rules and regulations intended to specifically identify themselves as different from the normal culture. While Jesus de-emphasized many of the physical symbols of this separation, He charged His followers with an even more challenging task, as the Apostle Paul expressed it:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Even Christ-followers feel the strong tug of conformity toward whatever our world sees as normal. It is especially hard to resist when it happens gradually. Perhaps the sudden upheaval of the recent pandemic was God’s way of waking His people up. If a Christian feels comfortable with what the world considers normal, it may be that he or she has taken their eyes off Jesus and veered onto the wrong path.
To get back on track, we mustn’t yearn back toward the old normal. We must strive forward to a new normal which honors God and conforms to His word.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.