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April 30, 2008
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What is normal?

I wonder if as Christians we don’t try to convert people to normalcy more than we do a relationship made possible through Jesus Christ. Do you feel sorry for those who have less than you? Do you feel bad for someone who may have it harder?

Is that a product of our American Christian experience? I only ask because I was talking with someone today and they expressed their frustration with how people treat them. The individual feels like people feel sorry for her for her situation. She doesn’t feel bad, she has a community of people who support her and care about her.

No one may ever mistake her experience for middle class suburbia but is that what Jesus came to do? To turn everyone into the American dream? What are your thoughts?

Clearly there is a way of life we are called to but I’m not sure that way of life has any bearing on house size, number of cars or TV’s. That way of life can happen with little or a lot. I just wonder if we don’t think that if people really loved Jesus and were following him they would have a nice middle class experience.

If you think of a place like Corinth what does it mean? Do we think that the people listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 suddenly became the upper class of Roman culture?

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Not many of you were. Not only does it say that not many of you had made it but God actually chose you to show something to the world. No, I think we should be careful when we project a middle class with it image onto what a Christian is.

We may be missing the fact that our normal wasn’t created by God but our culture. We may miss those foolish things that God uses to shame the wise. We may make someone feel that they can’t connect with God just because they only have a High School GED.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2008 9:48 pm

    Interesting thoughts. And you’re right to say that Jesus hasn’t called us to solid status in the American middle class. I think he wants us to care much about that.

    From a slightly different angle, I suspect that the woman who thinks other people sometimes feel sorry for her may be right. A different take on that look or gesture in her direction is that the other person wants for her something better than what she has. I don’t know that that’s all bad, and I’m not saying you think it is.

    I obviously don’t know her situation, her living standards, etc. I do know that I sometimes find myself thinking, “I wonder how long it’s been since he was able to go to a dentist?” I’ve had students who were in a lot of pain, and were waiting for a check to come in before they went to the doctor.

  2. April 30, 2008 9:51 pm

    Correction! :-0 “I DON’T think he wants us to care much about that.” !!!

  3. May 1, 2008 12:34 pm

    I here what you are saying about wanting better but how do we define better?

    Is having more stuff better? I think it is very subtle but from our POV better is being in Christ, right? If poorer people feel like they can’t be in Christ because of that then haven’t we missed something?

  4. Nick Gill permalink
    May 1, 2008 1:08 pm

    If all you have is a cardboard box and the dirty clothes you’ve been wearing for a week… then YES, having more stuff is better. Been there, done that.

    How much is enough?
    Our culture says, “Just a little bit more.”
    Jesus says, “What the Father has given you.”

    Yes, many people DO think that if you REALLY love Jesus, you’ll stop being poor. If you really love Jesus, you’ll be able to find a job, buy a big house and live in the suburbs.

    What I wrestle with when I read the New Testament is that I really don’t think I CAN live the kingdom life “with a lot.” Maybe it is a gift, but I know I’m not getting through the eye of that needle.

    What about the problem of richer people feeling like they CAN connect with God while their fists are white-knuckle clamped around their car keys and checkbook? Solve this problem, and the question you concluded with seems to go away.

  5. May 1, 2008 2:33 pm

    Darin, I don’t think that having more stuff is better. But I do think that shalom is better than the absence of it. And I think that’s related to costly health care, clearly part of the struggle among the lower classes in the U.S. (Again, I don’t know the lady who felt looked down on, nor her sitation. So I don’t know what others might have seen absent in her life, and what they wanted for her). Anyway, I don’t mean that I hope for others more possessions, discretionary time and income, etc. But neither do I want to slip into the a sort of gnostic position that says, “We’ll always have the poor with us, but as long as their souls are okay, then they’re okay.”

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