A New Normal
Another term we are hearing more these days is “a new normal.” When we have been severely displaced from our routines, it can take a while to become accustomed to a new way of doing things. We may feel lethargic, undisciplined, imbalanced or just out of sorts until we adjust to new routines. Eventually the new becomes familiar and we grow comfortable with what previously seemed alien.
Here are a few things that should not become a new normal:
1. Social distancing. We have previously discussed the “six foot rule.” We are forbidden to shake hands, hug or otherwise display traditional greetings or affection. Don’t let this become the new normal in your life! Even in morally decrepit first century Rome Paul did not forbid affectionate displays but advocated greeting “with a holy kiss” (1 Th 5:26). Let us keep our hearts pure and our arms embracing.
2. Not assembling. We do not know how long prohibitions on meeting will last, but every week that goes by without worshiping together increases the risk that it will become someone’s new normal. There is a line between prudence and dereliction, and the latter is roundly condemned in Scripture: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:25). Our worship time together is vital to our spiritual well-being. Please don’t get comfortable spending Sunday morning in your pajamas.
3. Illegitimate allowances. When considering our current state of affairs, Mark and I were concerned with the precedent that would be set in our decision making. While we have honored the concerns of the medical and political establishments, we are also aware of spiritual dangers this may spawn. One of those is allowing the current aberration to worm its way into our thinking in regard to future conflicts. Don’t be tempted to sidestep spiritual obligations by reasoning, “We made an exception for the coronavirus; why can’t I make an exception in this circumstance?” Maybe you can depending on the facts of the case, but don’t let a crisis mode become a mental default setting.
Here are a few things that should become a new normal:
1. Greater communication. I have sent more emails and texts over the past couple of weeks than ever before. We have common concerns, challenges and goals. Our deacons have been calling members to see about their welfare. We should keep up such efforts to support and encourage one another. And I suspect many of us have prayed more during this pandemic than we have in a while. Communication enhances closeness, and closeness fosters growth.
2. Less extraneous activity. No sports, theaters, amusement parks, zoos – seems like all the fun has been zapped from life! Don’t get me wrong; I’m not condemning recreational pursuits. (I’ve been known to watch a golf tournament or two.) But maybe the enforced hiatus will help us reevaluate how much of our time is dedicated to the frivolous, thus robbing worthier endeavors of our attention.
3. More family time. Since we are restricted in our associations, we have been forced to spend more time with those in our immediate orbit – our family. This is a good thing! We hope and pray that parents can move away from sheer busy-ness of things in the previous category and realize the joy and satisfaction of doing things as a family.
Make your new normal a better normal.