I don’t know if much of America feels the way I have felt, or has ever felt as I have felt, or if it has to do with my day and age in America, but I have felt that we don’t want to be normal. In fact, normal is not such a good thing.
I remember in High School debating what normal is, and trying to define normal, and laughing with my friends saying that there really was no such thing as normal. What we really did was misunderstand everything, and then laugh at our misunderstanding.
The truth is there is a normal. Normal people don’t make headlines, stories, new articles, or good books. That’s because people don’t want to read about what they live everyday. They don’t want to watch what they do all the time. They want to see something a little more than normal.
But when it comes to being a Christian, we don’t live the lives we watch on TV, read in books, or etc. Why? Because these mediums are trying to entertain and communicate something quickly and effectively. They won’t show you every time someone eats, goes to the bathroom, breathes, checks facebook, etc. They are summarizing and drawing out things. They are able to tell good stories simply because people know what normal is. We enjoy Harry Potter because it’s beyond us. It wouldn’t be the same if we all were wizards reading about the lives of other wizards. It would be, well, not as fun.
Normal not only exists, but Christ defined what a normal Christian is. And as a Christian growing up in America, I allowed entertainment to define what kind of life I wanted. I wanted exciting. I wanted adventurous and extraordinary. I wanted fun. And what I realized more and more, is that life exists between all the “great” moments we remember, or even bad moments we remember. At the age of almost 26, I’ve eaten at least 16,000-25,000 meals, and even more snacks. At the age of almost 26, I’ve slept at least 56,000 hours. Life has happened between most of those memorable moments. I have done many things between all the things I remember. I remember far less than what I do remember.
As a Christian, I must take this all into consideration. More of my life will go unwritten and unnoticed. And it is not only the extraordinary moments I am called to be faithful to Christ, but it is also in the ordinary moments I am called to be faithful.
So the Christian life is more about how I am obeying Christ right now. Sitting on the couch. Laptop on my lap. Writing and typing. Breathing. Meditating. Than about what the next great thing I am going to do for Jesus.
God has really changed my mind the past year as I reflect on these things. I now see that I have wasted more time wanting to do something than actually reflecting if I am doing the best thing right now. I have spent more time waiting for God to “do something” than in reflecting if I am being faithful and doing what God has already given me to do.
I had a strong desire before to be a pastor. It’s still there, but it’s not as strong. I simply want to love the body of Christ and be faithful here and now, doing whatever shows the most faithfulness and is the most building, most edifying, for my family now, my future family, and my family in Christ.
I remember a man once saying that if a person wants to become a pastor because that’s the only thing they can see themselves doing, then they shouldn’t be considered for being a pastor. I didn’t really know what that means until I had a family (not because my wife and son but because God used them to demonstrate my false thinking). And now I understand that. If all a man thinks he will be good at is shepherding, then he really isn’t going to be a good pastor either. And I believe Paul’s qualifications for an elder demonstrate this. He says this:
1 Timothy 3:1-7
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (ESV)
Notice how there are tons of things an overseer must be doing right now. And notice how unextraordinary it all is. Love one wife. Teach your kids. Not be drunk. Respectable. Not a new convert. Caring for his family. Managing his household. Sounds like things that everyone should be doing.
Ordinary men make the most extraordinary of people. Why? Not because they’re doing anything radically different, but because the circumstances around them are radically opposed to God. We commend men like Shadrach, Mishach, and Abendigo. They stood up to the ruler and wouldn’t bow. But were they doing anything radical, or trying to be adventerous, and thinking how could they piss off the ruler? No. They knew they can’t bow, and so they didn’t. It took courage, sure, but they were doing what everyone ought to have been doing anyways.
This is why ordinary men seem to be the most extraordinary. Men and woman who merely follow God and obey His word and follow His principles and seek to imitated Christ are often praised by many, as they should. Not because there’s something about them that’s special, but simply because they are the most unspecial people.
To the world or to new believers all the people in the Bible may seem like such amazing people. But truth be told they were like us and there’s nothing too different about them than there is about us. And that’s why we don’t elevate men above the status they ought to be elevated. But we also respect and honor those who lead over us because of their office and the task they do. We ought to be grateful, thankful, and demonstrate it.
What we ought not do is pretend that Christians all must be some amazing evangelists who change the world by preaching the gospel all over the world. If all Christians were doing that, I don’t know which Christians would be paying for all those travel expenses.
So my goal in life has been radically altered. No longer do I pray for God to use me. God is using me all the time. I pray now and ask that God will keep me faithful to Himself, and that I will be diligent in all circumstances to do what needs to be done. Because I’m a Calvinist, and God uses us all the time. And if I want to be used by God for good then praying that I remain faithful to Him and that I know His will in every circumstance will keep me from doing wrong.
I just want to be a normal and ordinary Christian. And I hope more will take up that call, and build businesses, families, and shape the culture around them by the ordinary means God has given all men.