Normalcy, The Great Seducer…

The issue of normalcy has been at the forefront of my mind for many years now. However, it has only been recently that these things have begun to work themselves from the place of mere thoughts in my mind into reality. It has been a goal of mine since I was about 15 to “be different”. I have come to discover that God has wired me to be a bit rebellious, which can be a very dangerous thing if not harnessed for the Kingdom & His purposes (Something I struggle daily to grasp). Being normal has always seemed so boring to me. Why would I want to be, do, look, act, work, perform, & love like everyone else does? Where is the adventure in that? There may not be adventure in it, but it is much “easier” to be “normal”. Therein, lies the seduction…

By nature, I suppose, we choose what is easier over what is “right”, or obedient. I mean, it is much easier to go along with the “flow” of the majority, or “status quo”, right? For example, it takes much more effort to eat organic & prepare meals at home than it does to swing by Subway to grab a $5 foot long. It is SO much “easier” to mentally & physically “escape” the busyness of the day by watching hours of TV on the couch than it is to engage those we love in healthy conversation about life. It is much “easier” to fit in with the “crowd” by having a “real job” (9-5, vacation time, set hours, health insurance, nice salary, retirement, etc.) than it is to do what you love doing – even if it means less money, or the risk of “appearing” unsuccessful. We could go on and on with examples…(I’d love to hear some that come to your mind as well)

The more places I go the more encouraged I become. I meet people everywhere who refuse to be seduced into the normal life. They are insistent upon pursuing what they feel are the important things in life. The beauty of that is we all must choose for ourselves what is important to us, and what we value based upon the activity of the Gospel in our lives. Then, we mustn’t judge the things others choose as important so long as they have heard God’s voice and are in His will for their lives. There is much freedom in this, as well as a lot of room for Jesus to move in our lives as we make ourselves available to Him for obedience.

Perhaps Normalcy is the enemy’s great tactic in keeping the Bride of Christ too busy to ready herself for the return of Her Groom? It is what robs us of the Joy we could have in Christ through our pursuit of what is in line with His kingdom. It is what causes us to live a life of doubt and fear, unfulfilled. This Great Seducer grabs us, and pulls us in early on. It conditions our minds against TRUTH, and the things of God.

I do not find anything normal about Jesus and those who followed Him in the scriptures. In fact, they were quite the opposite of the rest of their fellow man. However, they did not choose to be abnormal for the sake of being different. They chose to be different so as to fully surrender their lives to Jesus, and be completely available to Him. Does normalcy reduce our availability to the Holy Spirit’s leading? There have been many attempts to pull God, His Kingdom, and His purposes into our “Normalcy box”. There are a lot of “normal Christians” out there. They all look alike, dress alike, talk alike, do the same activities, drink the same beverages, follow the same laws (scary – see Galatians), keep the same traditions/rituals, follow the same “leaders” (Often times not Jesus), spend their money on the same things, have similar “time cards” of availability, and have the same lifelong insecurities that Jesus longs to set us free from. As believers, we should be set apart from the world. I would submit that very few, if any, of the above things are on the same list Jesus holds in how He desires His children to be “different” from the world. There are also similarities we should share with our brothers & sisters in Christ. Again, I feel that very few on Jesus’ list can be found in the above. I have no desire to be normal in any sense – worldly, or Christian – both are a far too incomplete picture of what Jesus paints when He speaks of life to the fullest, for the purpose of His Kingdom, as an adopted Child of God.

May we pursue Him, and obedience to Him. Let us not swing the pendulum back over to the other end, allowing our “rebellion” or rejection of what’s normal to become our idol. Both are dangerous, and not pleasing to Jesus. This is a mere plea with myself, and you all to insist upon removing the “normal” things in our lives that steal our uniqueness in Christ. May our hearts cease to lust after what is easy and normal, and may we be seduced by the one true lover of our souls. May that love set us free, and cause us to come alive. May this be what “sets us apart” as those who follow Jesus. Thank you Jesus.

church, my personal Lord & Savior.

“It was NOT church that died on the cross for us. In fact, church is one of the very reasons Christ died on the cross. He died, as our bridegroom, that we, a broken and dirty bride might be made pure and clean – ready for His return…”

Have you accepted church as YOUR personal Lord & Savior? Has church entered your heart, and become the leader of your life? Have you allowed church to “take the wheel”, & be in the “driver’s seat?” Have you committed your life to church, and begun to share about your faith in church with your friends and family? I trust that you have invited those friends and family into a personal relationship with church so that it may transform their lives, allow them to play a part in the kingdom, and grant them eternal salvation in heaven.

(Before anyone gets upset, or defensive please know that my ABOVE use of the word “church” is directed at all different forms/models of church – mega, simple, house, attractional, incarnational, institutional, conventional, traditional, missional community, etc.)

I am attempting to illustrate how we worship our individual church, or “form” of church sometimes MORE than, or ABOVE Christ. It seems as if we have become “Dependent” upon those things rather than Jesus Christ. The above sounds, and IS heretical. However, we have not merely replaced the word “Jesus” with “church” in this blog post, but it is evedent in our actions – we are guilty of heresy in our practices. Why is Jesus not enough for us?

Be it mega-church or house church we all tend to fall into the trap of thinking it is one of those things that is the answer, and not Christ. We want to give people one of those things before Christ. We want them to find “community” and relationship in one of those things. We will talk about our “churches” sometimes with more excitement and enthusiasm than our Savior Jesus. how often do we offer church to people before we offer them Christ? Sure, our well-intentioned desire is that they might find Christ once they “join” a church or get involved there. I would submit that they need to know Jesus through YOU, and therefore become a PART of the body of Christ-the Church-as a result.

Here is a prime example of what I am referring to: I have a friend who has a pretty intense drug/addiction problem. After being “clean” for a while I learned that he had “re-lapsed”, and was not doing so well. We were riding in the car as he shared with me how he had been clean again for 3 days, started going to AA meetings again, and wanted to start going to church again (By this he meant he wanted to start attending a weekly service on Sunday mornings). I immediately asked him why he wanted to “go to church” again , and he replied, “because I want to get right with God, get close to Him”.

It hit me that we have substituted church for Jesus. At best we have made them synonymous when they are NOT. Church has become the default way to get close to God. Church has become the answer, and not Jesus. My friend is not in the wrong; he didn’t know any better. I was extremely excited for him, and his PURE desire to clean up, and “get right with God”. This is not an accusation towards him, but us, as the body of Christ. What picture have we painted for the world? Have we offered people church before Jesus? Why is that the default “solution” before Christ?

I became very convicted after the conversation with my friend. You see, I immediately began to think of the best place for him to go that would assist him in his pursuit. I named several options, one of which was one of the simple churches we had started. I am not at all saying it would be bad for him to go to one of those places. I am not even saying that he would not encounter God and be discipled in one of those places. However, why was that the solution I presented him…FIRST? Not to mention, why did I try to “pawn him off” to others when here he was sitting right in my lap practically begging to be discipled? We do not realize it is also OUR job to disciple others into a saving knowledge of Jesus-not primarily an institution or form of church. We, as the body of Christ get to evangelize others into the body. Once there, we get to disciple them as new members of that body. Yes, the body as a whole plays a part in that discipleship, but we, as the evangelizer/discipler play a huge part in that process. Bottom line: I need to disciple my friend. I need to give Him Jesus.

Whatever pursuit of BEING the Church you subscribe to I challenge you to subscribe to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior first and foremost. May that be what dictates our pursuit of BEING a part of the Body of Christ. I will be taking a personal challenge this week to make a mental note of every time I have a discussion about “church” in comparison to how many conversations I engage in about my Jesus. For it is not church that we place our faith in.

“It was NOT church that died on the cross for us. In fact, church is one of the very reasons Christ died on the cross. He died, as our bridegroom, that we, a broken and dirty bride might be made pure and clean – ready for His return. May we worship Him, and not the bride for whom He was murdered.”