Reflections by Jeremy Alger

WARNING! We are heading toward a future that is going to feel…. normal. Normalcy, comfort, and eventual complacency are headed our way.
We have been turned upside down in almost every way in our lives over the last twelve months. People are experiencing decision fatigue, chronic stress, not to mention the loneliness and depression that have resulted from the pandemic. Normalcy sounds like a dream to most of us. We are thrilled with every little aspect of our pre-COVID lives that comes back. It has certainly been a joy to see so many people back in church who have been watching online or just missing us completely.
But this column began with the word WARNING. There is nothing wrong with being glad that things are returning to how they have been. I will be one of the first to declare that some of the new ways of life are better and at least need to stay in place as an option. I don’t think that any church that wants to reach its community is ever going to be able to not have their services online. I also think that society should continue to function with a consciousness of how one person’s actions can negatively affect other people with different or weaker immune systems.
It would surely be a shame if we came out of this pandemic without the fresh reminder of how precious life is, and how it can end before we would have ever thought. The millions of people that died from this disease deserve to be remembered as a symbol to us of how we should cherish the gifts of our lives.
But my warning is that we need to not lean all the way in to this return to normal. Not just in the ways that I’ve already mentioned. We should take a rest and regain our strength and focus before we proceed in life. But too much normal and too much comfort will lead to complacency. Even more than the world needs the eradication of COVID, the world needs the church to not be complacent!
I heard a brilliant quote from Craig Groeschel, “Growth and comfort never coexist.” We are called to grow in grace and grow into the likeness of Jesus. And according to Mr. Groeschel, we can’t grow while we are comfortable. I think he’s right.
In the cinematic classic Rocky 3 Mickey tells Rocky that he can’t beat Clubber Lang because Clubber is hungry and Rocky hasn’t been hungry since he won the championship belt. Mickey talks about the nice house and the cars and clothes that he has. What Mickey is saying is that Rocky got comfortable.
I will go ahead and tell you that Mickey was right. Clubber Lang destroys Rocky in the first act of Rocky 3. When Rocky’s life falls apart after that, when he gets uncomfortable, he stretches himself to train in new ways and to grow into a better boxer. That discomfort is a major part of why Rocky is able to regain his belt in the final act of Rocky 3.
So you have been warned. Normal is coming, and comfort won’t be far behind. But if you let them, those things will make you completely complacent, unprepared and irrelevant when it comes to serving and ministering in the Kingdom of God.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. They meet in person and online every Sunday. For more information please visit