If “normal” means feeling like we fit in, feeling a connection to our community, or feeling like we know our place in the world, then most of us would say we’re close to normal.

But what is normal?

The world has changed and continues to change. Today, new parents discover their bundle of joy also leaves them more tired. That’s no surprise because back in the 1970’s it only took 28 minutes to put babies to sleep, but today parents spend 56 mins on that routine. Back in 1992, 64% of teenagers typically ate dinner with their parents, today that’s fallen to 35%. Back in the 70’s & 80’s post-secondary education was affordable but tuitions costs have outpaced inflation. Student debt has sky-rocketed and today almost 60% of graduates enter their first job already deeply in debt. In 2008, the world coined a new turn-of-phrase – “The New Normal”.

What’s normal today, wasn’t normal yesterday.

Wall Street Journal – Sep 8, 2011 – Canadians continue to live paycheck to paycheck….. most surveyed have little margin in budgets….. 50% saving 5% or less of net pay…. 57% would have difficulty if their paycheck was delayed by even a week…. 74% have saved less than ¼ of their retirement goal….. 40% expect to retire later than planned.

Globe & Mail – Sep 8, 2011 – Average consumer debt (excluding mortgages) was $25,603.

Statistics Canada Jun 2011 – the ratio of debt that consumers carry reached almost 150% of their disposable income….the average 2 child household owes $176,461.

Canada’s Fraser Institute 2010 – 25% of Ontarians gave 0.88% of their income to charities.

Therefore, if you are “normal” (by the world’s measures) then you owe much more than you earn, you live paycheque to paycheque, you aren’t able to save for retirement, and you don’t give to charities. What’s worse is you expect to live like this for a very long time.

Is this the way it’s supposed to be?

We have been tasked with transforming the world we live in, not to conform to it. How can we do that effectively when our finances control what we do? When our obligations overshadow our goals do we really control our lives? Should we control our finances or should our finances control us?

God gave us an owner’s manual (the Bible) and it has a different view of money, debt and the world. He said very clearly, that debt is bad, giving is greater than getting, and everything we have is temporary. There are no qualifiers, these are givens – immutable truths from our Creator. So the real challenge we face as “normal” Christians in this world, is how to become less “normal” and more Christian.

It’s not easy, in fact, Jesus said it would be hard. But it is possible, because all things are possible with God’s help.

– Timothy Lee