Normal - what's normal?
By the Revd Robert Jordan M.A.
24th August 2014
Bible Reading: Romans 12:1-8
Normal - what's normal?
Am I right in supposing most of us here today would consider we are "normal" people? But what is it that makes us normal? Or in other words, what is "normal"? Let me share with you a conversation overheard on the train recently. Two young men, about 25 years old, on the way to London.
"Things are quite complicated, every month for quite some tine now, money lasts less and less, and I don't know what to cut down on next..." to which his friend simply says "At last..." "At last what? asks the first guy. "At last you have become a normal person".
Is this what we mean by "normal" then? We all try to be as normal as we possibly can, we follow accepted patterns of behaviour, we do things in a particular way... we are as much as we can be, normal people. We live in a world culture that doesn't know how to relate to people who are different and this has often created a sense of rejection, of discrimination. So it might be a good idea to ask ourselves if "normal" is the best thing. Is it normal to live in a time where everybody rushes around feeling they never get anywhere? Is it normal to live isolated one from aother in a way that we read in the press about 10 days ago that most young people live life without friends? Is it normal for so many to feel economic disstess?
If this is normal, is it good? Are we normal because we come closer to the average of statistic? We fit the profile? What then does the reading today have to say to us. We are asked to become a presentation acceptable to God (a living sacrifice), and then in verse 2: "Do not be conformed to this world...rather be transformed so that we can discern the will of God". I love these words because they are an invitation to be a different form of normal - normal in God's plan not the world's plan.
I have met so many people who have suffered because they don't 'fit' into the accepted pattern, they are different, and so recjected. God can use our vulnerability to connect with others who are vulnerable. God can use our darkest areas of life and bring light to others or ourselves. To conform is to accept a given pattern which is not always the best pattern. Let us go back to that conversation overheard on the train. Conforming is something passive, that happens to us. To be transformed is active, it becomes a thing we try to do, and will involve discernment to discover a better way. This is what Paul is writing about... the children of God are invited to be normal in a different way... a better way I would suggest.
Jesus never conformed to the patterns of his time, and this is what upset people so much so that they put a lof of effort to get him out of the picture. Jesus believed that the will of God should be the normal pattern... and this is the challenge set to us today...God's will by which we don't believe we are more than others but we don't believe we are less than others... we are all members of a common body ... members who play different roles but all needed for the integrity of the whole.
To be living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God is not the normal way this world wants us to live...so if we chose a different way from the accepted patterns of the day how are we being normal? Is the world's way of being normal the way God wants us to be? I really don't think so. We are called to be different and yes that is good. Church is a community of people who don't conform to the patterns of the times, and when we share communion we proclaim God's vision of sharing not through merit but in grace and love, not in speculation of receiving in return but in thankfulness. This is what should be normal, so let us thank God for the different vision we have received and want to be part of. Being normal in God's way is a call to be different to what the world decides is normal... let us enjoy the difference and share it with others. I am sure many want to be normal in this different way. Amen.