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Enough Wrong Normality

1 Peter 4:3-4
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. (NIVUK)

'Normal' is a strange English word.  Mathematically, it means 'forming a right angle'.  Scientifically, it means 'conforming to scientific laws'.  Chemically, it defines the strength of a solution.  Statistically, it can mean a mode or an average.  Biologically, it describes an organism working without any defect.  Now, all those definitions assume that something is absolutely right and true.  However, socially, 'normal' means 'what is usual' - and that is assumed to be 'what is right' ... even when it is wrong according to God.
When people refuse to obey the only God who can save them, they will trade in whatever pleases their sinful nature. They may be educated, physically strong and agile, socially sophisticated, academically or artistically talented … but sensuality, alcohol, drugs, and immorality can soon become normal, even though they are wrong.  When such errors become embedded in a society, those who have no relationship with God through Jesus Christ often become hostile to the follower of Jesus.  The first hostility is social isolation; the Christian is considered strange.  Your refusal to immerse yourself in behaviour that offends God is offensive to those who want everybody to approve of their lifestyle.  The second act of hostility is to ridicule your faith and abuse your God-fearing nature.  Systematic bullying and even physical persecution may not be far behind.

We may sometimes forget that all the Christians in the Early Church were non-Christians before encountering Jesus.  They may have been God-fearing and religious, pious and morally disciplined, but they were sinners at risk of God’s judgement.  Many of the believers with devout Jewish backgrounds were like that – but their morality could not save them because some part of their lives was immoral.  Others may have lived debauched lives as encouraged by the ‘norms’ of Gentile pagan behaviour.  Peter’s instruction was firm.  Enough!  Stop!  Turn around!  Be holy! (1 Peter 1:14-16)
Whatever the world says, it is God's Word which defines what is normal, right, true and the judgement standard held by God.  Christians who are tempted to go back to dark ways must realise that enough is enough - the wasted years must be repented of (Joel 2:25-27) and not repeated (2 Peter 2:20-22).  Peter wanted to reassure his readers that such personal attacks on a godly lifestyle were to be expected (2 Timothy 3:12). They were not a sign of God's indifference but a reminder of the corruption that is in the world: a world which will be judged by Him one day.  In the meantime, however your family or colleagues treat you, remember that the Lord Jesus also suffered at the hands of people who were convinced that they were right, even though they were totally wrong.  Our responsibility is simply to please our Saviour and leave the consequences in His hands.

Dear Lord. Thank You for this reminder that personal hostility against me, for obeying You, may be expected at some time. Forgive me for falling to the temptation to go back to the way of life I claim to have left behind. Please help me to stay true to Your Word and to resist the pressure to conform to the world. May my fellowship with other believers at work help support me and them to follow Jesus without compromise. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams