Most of us want to feel normal. We don't like to stand out and be criticized by people. We long to be accepted and try our best to be like the people around us. Yet, there is one big problem with normal, who decides what it is?
For most of the world, normal is decided by the constantly changing culture and society’s standards. We see this all the time as things that were once considered wrong are now said to be right. I'm sure we can all think of examples: the increasing acceptance of nudity (everywhere), how quickly homosexuality and gay marriage has become okay, or even America's view on our standard of living.
Living to be normal will quickly lead a Christian to compromise and down the slippery slope of apathy. Too often we as Christians accept things because, well, we see them all the time and they seem “normal.” If we are going to follow Christ we have to get used to something: We will never be normal.
Instead, we should strive to live biblically.
The Bible is the most incredible book ever written. It contains the story of God written for us by human hand through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is true (John 17:17). It is unchanging (Matthew 24:35). It is transformative (Hebrews 4:12). And it shows us how to walk the path God has planned for our lives (Psalm 119:105).
When we choose to base our lives off of the unchanging truths found in the Bible, we find a foundation solid and unwavering that will not change with society's whims and passions.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” - Matthew 7:24-27
This is a good thing, but it is also a tough reality to live out.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? - Matthew 16:25-26
When we step off the normal, wide path that the rest of the world is walking, we step away from easy and comfortable onto the path less traveled. When we humbly approach God’s Word, seeking his will, it begins to transform our lives and is usually an uncomfortable and sometimes painful process.
You may find that easy and comfortable begin to fly out the window and you start to understand why so many passages in the Bible call for our perseverance (Romans 5:4), courage (Romans 8), and hope in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:1-10).
But never forget, letting go of normal in exchange for biblical, while tough, is not a loss. It is a gain beyond what we could ever imagine.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3
Did you catch that? Jesus didn’t just endure the cross, he did it for the JOY SET BEFORE HIM. He knew that what he suffered now, could not in the smallest way compare to the glory ahead of him. And he gives us the same promise. We may feel abnormal here on earth, but there is a glory waiting for us in heaven that puts any earthly joy and happiness to shame.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. - Romans 8:18
Paul says it so well in Philippians 3:8:
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
That’s right. Garbage. Compared to Christ, all this stuff here and now is as useless and lasting as garbage.
So why wouldn’t we exchange a heap of garbage for the unfading joy of eternity in God’s presence? We’d be crazy if we didn’t.
However, we’ll never start looking different, standing out, and being a counter to culture in this fallen world if our days are spent saturated in the things of this world. The only way our lives will start to look biblical, is if we start reading, studying, and building our lives upon the truths in the Bible. There is no other way. There is no quick five step plan. We have to be washed over daily by the truth of God’s Word.
So who’s setting the standard for your life? Are you trapped in the pressure to conform to “normal”? Are you scared of the hardships that may come with living biblically? Are you finding your satisfaction and worth in the temporary highs of the garbage that we are told we need every day? Don’t lose heart! Like Hebrews 12 says, we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” You are not alone! Christ paved the way ahead of us and countless Christians have followed his path and are doing so right now. Therefore, don't lose heart. Don't grow weary. Remember the joy set before you. Remember why we run this race and let God’s unchanging Word be your source of strength and truth every day.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:7-8