It's a question I have heard frequently—perhaps daily—for over ten months: “When is life going to get back to normal?”
Sometimes it takes other forms: “Will things ever get back to normal?” “Is this going to be the new normal?”
The civil unrest of earlier this year, the political angst of this election season, and the violence in DC last week have only made our hearts yearn more for “normal.”
I strongly believe that, as far as Covid itself is concerned, we will get past it and that God will bring lasting good from it. But none of us can predict the future with certainty, which includes describing what “normal” will look like tomorrow or next year or twenty years from now.
But I believe that one blessing of the past ten months—Covid and all—will be if Christians rediscover the normal Christian life.
It's a sad reflection on our hunger for God that when Christians voice their desire for “normal” it is usually talking about the normal routines of being able to eat inside a restaurant or go through a checkout line without a mask.
Could it be that we no longer long for what the first-century churches in Acts experienced as the normal Christian life?
When you read Acts and understand some of the historical and political events that happened concurrently to the exploding growth of the early church, it's a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit through what should be the ordinary routines of the Christian life.
The Christians in Acts faced cultural division, prejudice, religious hypocrisy, and outright persecution from their government. But they also experienced the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. I'm hungry to see that kind of normal.
What were the “normal” factors of the early church?
There is hardly a page in the book of Acts without a reference to prayer. It seems the apostles and the early church Christians prayed in every situation. And God answered their prayers.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.—Acts 1:14
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.—Acts 2:42
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.—Acts 4:31
Prayer should be as normal to the Christian life as breathing. And fervent, regular, importunate, intercessory prayer should be the norm—not the exception—among God's people.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.—James 5:16
No matter what was happening in the larger picture of culture, including how that influenced direct persecution of Christians, the early church praised God.
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.—Acts 2:47
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.—Acts 5:41
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.—Acts 16:25
Do you think the average Christian today is known for their high view of God and constant praise of Him? Or do you think they are more known for their views on the pandemic, politics, personal disappointments…? God inhabits the praises of His people. May we be people of praise.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;—Philippians 2:14–15
3. Proclaiming Christ
The early church just never stopped proclaiming the gospel. For too long now, American Christians have allowed others to drive the narrative in our country to one cause or another. It's time for God's people to drive the narrative back to Jesus Christ.
The gospel spread in the first century because Christians shared it.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.—Acts 5:42
And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.—Acts 8:25
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. … Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.—Acts 8:4–5, 35
And there they preached the gospel. … And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,—Acts 14:7, 21
I find that statements about the importance of declaring the gospel are easy for Christians to agree with. But are you doing it? Have you told anyone this week how they can find forgiveness and salvation through Jesus? This month? Last year?
Yes, the pandemic has made some of our normal methods of outreach less feasible. So let's find new ones. If you can't talk with people door-to-door in your community, can you canvass and leave gospel flyers? Can you visit new move ins? Can you visit your neighbors while wearing a mask? Can you post your testimony on social media?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.—Romans 1:16
These three activities—prayer, praise, and proclaiming Christ—aren't reserved for certain people or only practiced by the spiritually mature. They are baseline discipleship. They are the normal Christian life.
Let's not give up on the essential aspects of our faith.
Let's not allow current events to disrupt the basics of our love and loyalty to Christ.
Let's get back to normal—the normal Christian life.