A few weeks ago I was in a situation where I suddenly realized the person I was talking to thought I had just said the most bizarre thing. I was describing something that seemed perfectly normal to me and I could tell he thought it sounded completely abnormal. Slightly embarrassed, I laughed it off with, "Almost everyone in my family is like that. It doesn't seem odd when it's normal in your family."
I was talking about a physical oddity. But I've seen the same sort of thing happen in families with emotional and behavioral oddities. Like that frog you always heard about in science class as a kid, sitting in a pot of cold water that gradually comes to a boil without the frog having noticed, we become acclimated to the environment around us. Often, the weirdness of our situation doesn't occur to us until we see ourselves through others' eyes.
As I thought of this today, I was reminded of Jesus' words to his followers: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Really, Jesus? Love? That's it? That seems so, well, normal. So ordinary. How on earth is that going to send out a signal that we're your followers?
But of course, it's not normal at all. Normal is discord, and jealousy, and self-centeredness. Normal is greed, and gossip, and exploitation. Normal is sin. Love, meanwhile, is so essentially a divine quality that the apostle John proclaimed that "God is love."
This is not to say that people who follow Christ have the love thing figured out. We're human (read, "normal"). And often we act in perfectly normal ways. But when we can get love right, really right, it has a powerful effect, shining a light not on us but on the one we are following.
And if get love right often enough and for long enough, who knows -- maybe it will start to feel normal to us.