Normal, New, or Never?

What is “normal”?

Merriam-Webster says, “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern : characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine.” Corri’s brain thinks of it as something that we are consistently comfortable with, what we expect to happen or to be. Contrarily, “new” is defined as “having recently come into existence; unfamiliar; being other than the former or old; different from one of the same category that has existed previously.” So, things we aren’t yet comfortable with, or different to us.

Sometimes we might see or hear something that sounds or looks outside of our “normal”. There’s that “new”. Maybe someone has an idea or a view that is different from what we think or what we have been taught. Maybe they have a different way of doing things. Maybe they have a different lifestyle than you – more lavish or simple, more laid back or structured, 9-5 or work-odd-hours-from-home. Maybe they have a different view on politics, or education, or economics, or religion.

But you know what?

That doesn’t always mean that it is wrong.

Sometimes we are just too stubborn to see and accept.

The Jews had been looking for the Messiah for ages, and couldn’t see it when it was right in front of their faces. Even though they had the scriptures to study. They had one idea in their head of how He was going to be, then completely missed out when He showed up! Jesus even lays it out for them in John 5. In verse 39 He says, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” They were looking for a warrior to deliver them from political oppression, but Jesus came to deliver from spiritual oppression.

How many times do we miss out because we are too stubborn to see what is right in front of us? When we get so comfortable with “normal” that when a “new” idea is presented, we dig in and say, “Never!” We don’t even take the time to listen and consider what is presented? Like the Jewish leaders did to Stephen in Acts 7:54,57 (after he accused them of being stubborn, heathens at heart, and deaf to the truth in verse 51), we stop up our ears and gnash our teeth and treat the offending messenger as a pariah. When what we should do is be more like the believers in Berea in Acts 17:11 and listen open-mindedly, but also searching the scriptures to make sure truth is being taught. Be like the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius, who received the message gladly. Not as Paul accused the Corinthians of being in his first letter to them when he says, “I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged in this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other.” They weren’t ready for the “new” Paul wanted to share with them, because they were too busy quarreling and acting like spiritual children.

We act like spiritual children when we refuse to look at anything “new” presented to us. Like a toddler pitching a tantrum screaming, “Never!” And you know what? This “new” idea may be terrible. It may be the complete opposite of what we are shown by God’s Word. But maybe it’s not. Maybe there was something we were missing, or a different perspective we hadn’t considered. The point is, if we listen (or don’t listen) with a closed mind and a stubborn heart that says “Never, I’m complacent with my sense of normalcy,” we might miss out on something from God. Because as Gamaliel said:

If there is one thing I’ve seen, it’s that this verse is true. If it is from God, big things will happen and there is no stopping it. And if it isn’t, it will eventually fizzle out on its own anyway. I’m not saying we shouldn’t oppose things that are blatantly wrong. I am saying that just because something looks different or makes us a little uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong. Pray about all things and listen to God’s will. Hold on to “normal” when it aligns with God’s will. Only say “never” to things that are blatantly against the ways of Jesus. And open your heart to “new” when God’s Word and His Spirit lead the way.

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