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« The Light of the World | Main | Here on Purpose »

You Are Not Normal 

“That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 

Most people don’t evaluate the context of their behaviors or are not always cognizant of the circumstances that evoke certain responses from them. In other words, in the wake of certain events, people often react in “normal” ways. The problem is that we accept the human or secular kind of responses in our own lives and justify them as “normal.” For example, loneliness is a “normal” feeling experienced when we are isolated. The sense of irritation shows up when petty behaviors of other people or events disrupt the peace. Many kinds of other feelings—anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, disappointment, depression, confusion and hurt—rise up within us.  We are not immune to these emotions, and if we have them, we have not lost our Christianity. But, here’s the point:  we do not have to be conquered by these feelings! 

Picture two swaying bridges across a deep and dangerous ravine. One has handrails, the other does not. Which one would you like to cross? God will not pick us up and miraculously transport us across to the other side. Rather, He provides something to hang on to while we are slowly making our way from one side to the other. When circumstances elicit certain responses from you, do know why or do you just say “I’m only human! I can’t help it. It’s just a normal response.” Remember when the disciples were caught by a fierce storm?  They reacted in a normal way.  “Master, don’t you care that we perish?”  Mark 4:35-41. Fear of storms is normal. 

Our text speaks of the normal response to death: sorrow. Death makes us sad, but it may also evoke feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, doubt and fear. Those are the “normal” responses. But Paul said, “We do not sorrow as others which have no hope.” In other words, we’re not normal! Normal is our default position. Normal makes us feel like we are at least human. Normal puts us on the same plane as everybody else. And, therein, lies the problem. It is when we cave in to normal feelings that we lose all the advantages of being a Christian!  Let’s just go ahead and say we are to be abnormal. When we grasp the abnormal position as a response to the vicissitudes of life, we increase our ministerial effectiveness exponentially! It is when we keep our heads on straight when everyone else is losing control that we exercise quiet power. 

Yes, you can be abnormal in a normal (and sometimes sub-normal) world. Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  That’s not a normal response! Normal people don’t take pleasure tragedy. They get mad, bitter, disillusioned, outraged. They develop toxic attitudes, they complain loudly, they draw comparisons between themselves and others in the same profession. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice.1 Peter 4:12-13. That’s not normal. But we are not normal.  When we are threatened, we say, “To live is Christ; to die is gain.” When we are persecuted, we do what Paul and Silas did. “And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God…”

Don’t be normal. Normal people wallow in self-pity and defeat. They quit and justify themselves. Abnormal people hang in there against all odds. We are not normal. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:6-9.

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