“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
As I am writing this, the lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to ease in England. Shops and business are beginning to open, people can go for a haircut again and churches are allowed to reopen for public worship once again.
The question that seems to be on many lips is “When can we get back to normal?” Certainly we look forward to being able to meet again in person. But I’m not sure that ‘normal’ is the goal that we should be aiming for.
First of all, there are lots of things about ‘normal’ that are worth reassessing. In many areas of life, and certainly in church life, we do what do often because that’s the way we have been doing it for ages. It’s the way we have always done it and so the temptation would be to go back to doing it the same way again. I believe we have a powerful opportunity to take stock and reassess what we do, which we must not pass up. The drive to return to ‘normal’ must not prevent us from seeking God’s direction about what about that ‘normal’ is worth holding on it.
But deeper than this is another drive away from going back to ‘normal’. As Christians, things should never seem to ‘normal’ and we should be wary of trying to achieve ‘normal’. That’s because we don’t quite belong here. The book of Hebrews contains this powerful truth: “we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
We need to be wary of ‘normal’ because this world is not normal. Normal is yet to come. Home is yet to be found. We are not where we will end up and remain. Our journey is not quite complete.
This truth is no excuse to ignore the needs of our current circumstances or exploit the world in which we live. Far from it: God calls us to seek the peace of the city where we live (Jer. 29:7), even if it’s not our everlasting home. As people of a sacrificial and compassionate saviour we should be sacrificial and compassionate to the needs of the world.
We also get to enjoy the things of this world too. But let’s not get too comfortable. Let’s not fall back into normal because it’s the way things have always been. Because things will not always be this way. There is a city yet to come. God has not finished with us, or with his world, yet. Let’s go back to meeting, let’s go back to worshipping, let’s go back to loving our neighbour. Let’s just not go back to ‘normal’.