Is this the “new normal?”
Everyone seems to be using that term – the “new normal” – as if it has some empirical certainty. In a cultural laboratory somewhere, some highly educated people in white lab coats are probing the current societal situation – which seems to be manifesting a values virus with no antidote – wondering how long it will be until the “outbreak” can be controlled, and the whole of civilization will be able to return to what they’re calling the “new normal.”
Somewhere in the soul of every person is the longing for normalcy. Lacking an absolute that is universally valid, “normal” seems to refer to a feeling that we once had (though, in the moment, it may have lacked sufficiency), or – more likely – to a feeling toward which we’re drawn, compellingly. To arrive in a place where there is no threat, no conflict, no lack, no storm, no distance, no dissonance; that hunger for happy is in every person, and deceptive offers to deliver that promise are the domain of hucksters, charlatans and cultists in every generation.
In the midst of this moment of life, allow me to reset our instruments for reality: the “new normal” will be no more peaceable than the “old normal,” as the societal scientists report on our condition as “progress.”
We were made for normal. To really understand that truth, you have to go back to Yesterday, on Day #2: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” (Genesis 2:15-17). Normal? Men and women, in relationship with God, with no knowledge or fear of death.
Bad choices. Sin unleashed. The consequence, now an epidemic: “The one who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:20). “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death became the “new normal,” but it’s anything but normal. “Normal” is what we long for…
What’s “normal?” That’s the amazing promise of God, offered through His Son, Jesus: it’s our return to Eden: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:1-4).
Suppose we get a sure-shot inoculation against CV-19. Suppose we solve the sin of racism through a grassroots breakthrough. Suppose we sign an economic treaty with China. Suppose the Dow went to 50,000. Would that be the “new normal” that would satisfy our souls?
None of those points of progress would solve our real problem: it’s death, through sin. What’s the path to the normal that returns us to life, absent death? “Death has been swallowed-up in victory… The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15).
Normal is life, without death. Let’s keep that reality at the forefront of our messaging…