The Illusion of Normalcy
Our world and culture seem fixated on setting a standard. Our sciences, our studies, our practices are all based on an idea we’ve labeled as “normal.” You hear it in the phrases, ‘the average household’ and, ‘the average woman’ or ‘the average man’. And it works. We can tell how much of this we’ll need, and how much of that we can expect. That’s what normal is, right – predictable?
Normalcy has a definitive nature; anything outside of its boundaries is marked as unnatural and even absurd. We’ve come to measure our life by it, and now, it seems as if we’ve adopted it as an attitude. We’ve numbed our expectations to fit inside of its mold of stability. Yet the Bible bears testament of God’s standard to be boundless. The Creator’s intention never was to be limited by the expectation of His creation.
Normal was not built into the apostles’ the church’s, the gospel’s, nor the DNA of Jesus’ ministry. There was an expectancy around every prayer, word, and intention. The apostles continually challenged standards and effectively set their own tone of normalcy. ‘Normal’ was to see healings on the way to prayer; to see chains and prisons crumble; to testify the Name of Jesus to the high seated officials.
Acts seventeen records that Paul’s heart was stirred at the state of the Athenian’s normalcy. They were so seated in traditions that the simplicity of a personal one true God was absurd. They called him a babbler of strange gods and even brought him before an esteemed philosopher to hear “…this new doctrine…” and “certain strange things” (vs. 19-20). Paul was not content to accept their version of normal; he challenged it and split it wide open.
The sort-of paradox of ‘normal’ is that, as much as it’s used as a standard. It’s constantly changing, evolving, and digressing. There’s always going to be a ‘new normal’; the supposed standard isn’t as stable as we like to treat it. The world’s expectations will always lie on sinking sand. Paul reminds us in Hebrews 12 to look “…Unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God…consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners…”
Jesus broke a link in the chain of normalcy. A person who was surely innocent was not expected to bear the eternal weight of sin. They goaded Him to perform in a way that fit their ideas of innocence, to prove Himself according to their standard. Jesus not only challenged it, He sacrificially set an eternal standard of grace, love, and hope.
A proud North Dakotan, Maryssa enjoys good books, the outdoors, coffee, and furry four-legged company. She’s excited for what God is doing in her community, city, and state.