My brain and heart are full of things to say this morning. I want to wax eloquent on so many issues...but I decided on this one.
Last night my dad took my 13-year-old sister and I on a daddy daughter since my mom and younger siblings are visiting our grandparents. We went to a mall and ate supper at Panera bread.
Do you ever feel like you stand out? Do you ever get this lightning bolt feeling that you are not normal? I did last night.
Not that I haven't felt this before, but I haven't been to the mall in awhile:) All over there were clusters of teenagers and middle schoolers, dressed in things that I blushed to even see and would never wear, and behaving in a way that shocked me. Not that I've never seen such things before, of course I have! I live in a fallen world, and though my parents protect us from as much of the wicked out there as possible, I am still exposed to people and the way people act and dress.
Should I be ashamed of this? Should I cower and cringe and say, "Oh, I guess that's just how the world is, and I must be too sheltered"? Should I be ashamed that sin still shocks me and I abhor it?
No! And I am not ashamed! What breaks my heart is that these young people don't know any different! They think they are normal!
And so I ask, "What is normal?" Or maybe the question should be,
"What should be normal?"
Modesty should be normal.
In a perfect, unfallen world, women would not dress in such a way that men can see their every curve and that would cause them to stumble. If everyone lived as God intended for them based on what we see in the scripture, would I be keeping my eyes on the floor or ceiling as we pass by certain stores?
Family should be normal.
How many families did I see at the mall last night, one, two? And those were young couples who were dragging their screaming children through to the movie theater. I saw many clusters of young people, hanging all over one another, and couples who I can't imagine were married, and groups of middle aged ladies taking a break from hectic schedules by gossiping with their friends and spending their husband's hard-earned money....okay, so they may not all be like that! But where are the families? Does the fact that I see few families encourage me to spend my time at the mall? Or should the fact it doesn't seem like a family event discourage me from frequenting it?
My family is important to me, and I believe that it is the building block of society. But the mall and all places like it are focused on self! Not that you can't have a good time there (we did!) but it is not an atmosphere that encourages building relationships or glorifying Christ!
Contentment should be normal.
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content!" 1 Timothy 6:6-7
I really don't intend to give a guilt trip to anyone who enjoys a trip to the mall, I really don't! But when we really think and consider what the mall teaches us....it might help us question whether it is a valuable use of time! ("Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is, redeeming the time because the days are evil.")
If you think that the mall (or more precisely, the world's way of seeing things) is not trying to draw you in, to make you want more and more and to think that you can't be happy without that pair of shoes....you're wrong. We must be sober and vigilant because we are not going for a picnic in the park...we're in a war! And the enemy is not honest or kind, but deceitful and sneaky and evil! The world ( and the Father of it) loves to see us distracted from what really matters: Christ! Why? Because when we are content with Christ, we do not need the things of the world!
I am in the midst of reading, "The Pursuit of God," by A.W. Tozer for the second time, and yesterday I was struck by this thought. "The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One."
Being content in Christ does not mean that we are excluded from having fun, or rejoicing, or being passionate about anything else, but when we are wholly committed to following Christ, He gives us the capacity to enjoy much!
I need to get off the computer, but in closing, consider that we typically judge "normalcy" by the company we keep. If our friends act or dress in a certain way, we think that is normal. But what if we weren't bound by "normalcy" at all, what if instead of thinking "do I fit in or stick out?" we thought, "How does my behavior reflect on Christ and my family? Can people tell instantly that something about me is different and that I have a freedom to not be normal?"
Joh 15:18:19 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
If Jesus says we should not be surprised that the world hates us, why should we be surprised if the world looks at us funny, or be cause we are different than them?
Eph 5:1 "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children."
Who are we trying to mimic, the world or Jesus Christ?