Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LEAVING NORMAL

The world's smallest man died today. He Pingping was about two and one half feet tall. He was only 21, but died of heart problems.

Pingping seemed to enjoy some of the benefits of his recent fame. He traveled, he appeared on television and he made some money. It was a dressed up version of the circus freak show, sadly, with people paying money to witness his oddity. He was willing to accept the money and attention his oddness brought.

But Pingping's dream was not television. He wanted to get married and have children. He wanted to be normal. That thing that many take for granted and against which many rebel was his dream. He wanted a wife and kids, something not likely attainable for a man with primordial dwarfism.

Most people want to be normal. They want to look like everyone else, have what everyone else has and do what everyone else does. You see it strikingly in teenagers, who become intensely aware of their differences, real or imagined, from the pack. As they try to find themselves, they fear being ostracized from the pack more than anything else. They will wear whatever the pack wears, speak the language of the pack and do what the pack does, good or bad.

Adults are not much better. If the men in their group wear jeans and boots, so will they. The women will wear the same style of clothes. If the pack leader gets pregnant, all the others will follow in short order.

Many want to be super normal, or normal but better. They want to be beautiful, not just pleasant, athletic, not just coordinated, tall, not just average. No one wants to be subnormal.

However, those who originally wanted to be super normal, or extraordinary, often find themselves later wishing to be normal again. The actress gets tired of being followed by photographers. The football player would like to go to the movies without attracting a crowd. They could do that if they were normal.

But, on a deeper level, super normal creates emotional problems. The beautiful woman will always wonder if her man loves her for who she is, not for her prominent cheek bones or wide set eyes. The rich man wonders if his woman loves him or his money.

In our soul, we want to be normal and we want to be loved for it.

This is also what we want from God. We want to be normal human beings and we want God to accept us for who we are.

I received an email newsletter from a youth organization whose leader I met a few years ago (and who wants me to support him financially). The letter raved about a recent event the youth attended. The leader interviewed kids and asked what great thing they learned. A young man was quoted as saying his self esteem had been greatly raised because he learned that God loved him as he is and no matter what he did.

Pause of the buzzer to sound.

Unfortunately, many evangelicals teach this, and many Americans want to believe it. God is very loving and tolerant and cool.

Actually, God says no to that. God says each man and woman misses God's mark. His favorite word for that is sin. For example, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". That means all normal people miss God's mark of perfection.

He also said what you get for sin is death. He said sin separates you from God. He said there will be a judgment for all who miss the mark and they will spend eternity in a place with all the others who also missed the mark and rebel against God's standards and pay the price for it.

In short, normal does not cut it.

Fortunately, God provided help. He sent the super normal man, the God man, his son. His son, Jesus Christ, took a normal body but lived a super normal life without missing God's mark one time. Despite being not just good but perfect, he died to pay the penalty for all our mark misses. When we believe in him, we get the benefit of that. God says the penalty is paid and he can accept us, because we are no longer normal, but saved from normality by the price paid, the death of Jesus.
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