Lessons from a "normal" 18 year-old

Apparently I am naïve. I was recently informed that all 18 year-olds drink alcohol, and that getting inebriated 3-4 times a week is perfectly normal behavior. The individual educating me in this regard was somewhat of an expert on the subject, (if expertise is defined as being an 18 year-old who gets drunk 3-4 times a week- as opposed to the expertise acquired via 12 years of advanced training and 20 years of medical practice!)

I was particularly saddened by the cultural value this young person expressed. That belief that “common” and “normal” mean the same thing. Further, that “normal” means acceptable. I challenged her position with simple statement- “You can do better.”

It is easy to mock her positions as absurd, but I wonder if we all don't apply her logic at times. If “everyone” does something, we feel less guilty, more accepting of our actions. Men who regularly view pornography, women who complain about their husbands, people who spend money they don't have on things they don't need- can all be tempted to say “I'm not that bad, everyone does it.” The truth usually is that not everyone does, and even if they do, that is not the standard we should set. Instead of justifying our bad behaviors, we all need to ask ourselves, “can I do better?”

Can't we all? Shouldn't we all? We need to resist the temptation to justify ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. The Bible actually says that God demands the opposite from His people, “Be Holy, for I am Holy” scripture declares. “Holy” means distinct, separate, different. Our standards should be higher than those around us, our behavior should set us apart. Let's stop acting like average is okay and instead ask God to show us each day how we can be better, how we can be different, how we can be more like Him.