Have you ever had a moment in life where you said, “This changes everything!” In the late 1920’s, America had such a moment. It was the 1929 stock market crash that led to the subsequent Great Depression. For those who went through that period (and then World War II as well) their lives were impacted permanently by these events. Things changed, and for those who went through these changes, life never went back to “normal.”
Have you ever wondered about the current economic tsunami that our world is going through? All the news reports are asking the same basic question: “When will things get back to normal?”
My question is: Will they ever get back to normal? Or should we get ourselves ready for a new normal? And if so, what is this new normal?
As for me, I actually hope that we are not going back to the old normal. There’s a lot to be unhappy with in the old normal: how we let ourselves get sucked in by greed, get enslaved by debt, get sidetracked from the truly important - the best - things by our striving for far less important “good” things. It’s like they say, often the enemy of the best is the good. And we saw it right before our eyes.
I look back and I think many of us lost God’s grace in the old normal. We were so busy trying to work things out on our own, we tended to forget that God has the most important thing worked out for us already. His undying love. His Son, Jesus Christ. Forgiveness and mercy won at the cross. He has all our guilt and sin taken care of and eternity belongs to us!
Maybe, in the new normal, we can enjoy that grace every day, bask in it, even frolic in it, and be about doing what’s truly great, what’s really best, transformative even, for the world around us. Maybe our eyes will come off of ourselves and turn to the cross, and from the cross to the power of the empty tomb. And then from there, to our neighbor, who needs to hear about Jesus, and who needs to experience the love and care of Jesus through us.
The disciples had a moment in their life when they said, “This changes everything!” They had been hanging out in Jerusalem, cautiously, nervously waiting for Jesus to fulfill a promise he had made to them. He had promised he would send a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 tells us that when Jesus fulfilled this promise on Pentecost, the old normal of fear and doubt went away. The old normal of legalism and self-righteousness died on the vine. The old normal of serving self was replaced by the new normal of serving Jesus by serving the world around them.
This is what happened: “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47, NIV)
When the old normal became the new normal, the church became the church. It became what God meant it to be, because God the Holy Spirit was in it.
I'm praying that we're living in a new reality. In this new reality, let’s devote ourselves to God’s word as these Christ-followers did. Through the word, may the Holy Spirit be in us. It’s time we stop just going to church. Instead, let’s BE the church in this new reality we have been given.
Naw. Let’s not get back to normal.