A couple of weeks ago, I was at my kitchen sink doing dishes, listening to music. It was a new album that I hadn’t heard before, and as I listened through one of the songs, a line caught me off guard. It was a sweet little song about a couple falling in love. They met and started dating. The next part of the song seemed so simple, just the natural course of events: one night, before they go to bed, the guy gets down on one knee and asks the girl to marry him. It’s the beginning of their happily ever after. Such a sweet, romantic song, right?
But did you notice that one part? He asked her to marry him. Got down on one knee. Before they went to bed one night. Hmm. Something’s not right here. Why are they going to bed and getting engaged all in one night? What happened to marriage first? This song sang it so simply and uncovered an uncomfortable truth. This is the culture we live in. This is the “sweet love story” that our culture is embracing, but it’s so far from what God desires for His kids.
God used those lyrics to remind me that if I choose to purposefully and wholeheartedly follow Jesus, I’m going be weird. The values that the Bible teaches aren’t popular, including this one: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4).
Scripture doesn’t just ask us to save our bodies for marriage; our hearts are involved too. God asks us to be fully devoted to Jesus before everything else and to pursue our Savior first and foremost, instead of “following our hearts” and being ruled by our feelings. In our culture, it’s expected that you sleep with your boyfriend and that you let a guy touch you or talk to you the way only a husband should. It’s expected that you experiment sexually before committing to marriage for life. But Jesus calls us to something higher, to a life that won’t end in ultimate emptiness and dissatisfaction.
I recently came across an interesting guy in the Bible named Demas. He was friends with Paul and traveled with him for a while in ministry. But then something sad happened. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul, while giving a team update to the church, says: “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” I don’t know Demas’ story, but we can tell that he fell for the lies and shallow feelings of his culture, forfeiting the satisfaction that only comes from a life devoted to Christ.
Maybe Demas decided living differently was too much effort. Perhaps he was tired of being “weird.” Somehow, he fell in love with the world. The problem with falling in love with the world is that right as you fall, the net gets snatched right out from under you and leaves you hanging. Promises of fulfillment and happiness that go against the law of Christ will ultimately fail in the end.
So how do we live differently? How do we keep from falling in love with “normal”? I’ve got three ideas.
1. Know what you believe!
It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone is doing around us and forget why we believe what we believe. Do you have standards when it comes to modesty, music, or movies? Ask yourself why you do. Is it because “that’s just what we’ve always done”? When we don’t have personal, established reasons for what we believe that are grounded in and sourced from the Bible, falling into the world’s ways can be extremely easy.
2. Stay in God’s Word.
When we have the Truth constantly in front of us, the lies of the world can’t creep into our hearts as easily. It’s like setting up a sentinel at the door of our hearts as a lookout for fake beliefs. When we’re in daily communication with our Creator, we can better understand His original design for our lives, which is a far cry from what the world is settling for.
Pray like this and then open your Bible:
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! (Ps. 119:33–36).
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Eccl. 4:9–10).
It’s important that we surround ourselves with people who are chasing after Jesus, living according to the higher call of the Bible instead of the feelings-based, fluctuating whims of the world.
We don’t have to settle. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have something higher to live for than fleeting feelings and dead hopes. We can fully give ourselves in service, love, and selflessness because we know where our fulfillment and our ultimate happiness comes from, a Source that won’t leave us running dry.