By ELDER MICHAEL SMITH
Weirton Covenant Church
What does normal mean anyway? It is conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom of society. What the world accepts as normal is one thing and what Christ calls normal is quite another. Paul gave us these words, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:1, 2." It is clear that though as Christians we are in the world, we are intended to live different than the norm. 1 Peter 1:15, 16 declares, "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior. Because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
See if the following sounds familiar. Many might say the definition of truth is whatever is most expedient at the moment. Christians are relegated to the outer margin of society; marriage is defined according to personal preference and no sexual act is taboo or off-limits. Clearly immorality has seeped into the church.
Sound familiar? If you've been reading the news, it does. If you've been reading the Bible, it does as well. These phrases were common in many of the cultures in which the New Testament church began. Ephesus was famous for her temple orgies. Corinth was a seedbed of immorality. Rome was no friend to the church. The Christian movement was birthed in a maternity ward of contrary beliefs.
The church of today faces issues similar to those at the time of its inception. The move to redefine marriage is the most recent of a string of events that suggest we are entering a new normal. If so, here is the good news: the Bible was written for times like these. The church shines brightest in the darkest of times. Scripture exists to help the church thrive as citizens of heaven and strangers and exiles on earth.
In such times, our call is clear: "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. Philippians 2:12-16"
In changing times, we need to hold to the unchanging Word of God. Embrace what is true. Anchor to what is right. Set your heart on heaven, and keep the faith. The Lord who began the church will sustain it. Just like Nehemiah and Ezra who experienced a "New Normal" in their day did. In Ezra 9 after witnessing the city of Jerusalem being rebuilt with its walls restored and the temple rebuilt. Ezra began to teach the commandments of God again. He wept in prayer over a nation and a people who had clearly violated God's commands and were experiencing a "New Normal." His prayer called on God for forgiveness and beseeched the people to turn back to God and put away living a life style contrary to God's commands. The people heard with their heart and turned back to God and His ways.
The gates of Hell cannot prevail against the church. No weapon formed against us will prosper. Let us remember we can be free. The only true freedom is through Jesus, for who the Son sets free is free indeed. All else is just a new normal! "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you."And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor. 6:17- 7:1." Amen
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)