As i approached this sobering topic today the one thing that really stood out to me, and the one thing i solemnly realized was: Is just how easily "Mediocrity" can take hold of our lives and creep upon us unawares at various times and different stages during our pilgramage and walk with God as Christians!!
But How do we stop it! And for that matter how do we prevent its decay? Well that is what we are interested in (finding out) - Today.
And so hence and thus the journey now begins:
(HOW DO WE STOP AND PREVENT THE FOLLOWING:)
~~ Compromise and covetousness
~~ loving money and loving the present world
~~ Carnal living, immaturity, dullness of hearing
~~ The cares and concerns of this life
~~ Apathy, lethargy, mediocrity
How do we stop and plug those mid-season slumps?
How do we stop ourselves from going through the motions of just playing church, And from just simply (turning up) to meetings for the sake of it? Let alone the problem of glorying in the appearance only ( which according to the apostle Paul ) many do!
VERY FAIR AND PERTINENT QUESTIONS!!!
How do we keep the fire-of-God burning and blazing brightly for ever the day? Without ERE THE LAMP OF GOD GOING OUT IN THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD ??
As Light stands for purity and light speaks of fire and symbolically speaking "we desperately in these times" need NOT for that to happen - that is the lamp-of-God both fading and dwindling out TO A MEAGRE FLICKER, if not going out altogether.
Again i ask the question: How do we stop the menace of mediocrity from creeping into our lives to the point we accept the status Quo around us? And the good ole addage of "live and let live" and "What ever feels right to you must be okay" And how do we stop the throes of "pragmatism and realtivism" from barking on our door-steps! Insisting there is no absolute truth anymore! And in fact: It is arrogant for you or for anybody for that matter to suggest (in this day and age) that they possess - THE TRUTH!!!
In fact: Both generation(x)and gen(y)have swallowed the lies of both "pragmatism" and "relativism" hook-line-and-sinker...
NOW I BELIEVE IT WAS THE PROPHET ISAIAH WHO IN HIS GENERATION DECLARED "THAT TRUTH LIES FALLEN, FALLEN - IN THE STREETS"
Well my brother my sister: If THE truth lay fallen in the streets in ISAIAH'S time and Ere THIS WAS before Christ came into the world (WHO WAS THE EMBODIMENT OF TRUTH) Then how much the more does truth lie fallen and trampled in our streets? I ask ?
Why relativism teaches and says: Everybodies opinion is as good as everybodies elses" and nobody has the right to assume absolute truth about matters pertaining to life! To do so is TO BE arrogant! We are told. And everbody has the right to there OWN opinion and your opinion is as good as mine as long as we dont disrespect each others opinions - then we are all right about the things we all - believe in. (FULL STOP) HMMM.
( THIS IS CALLED: "relativism" and closely following on ITS heels is THAT OF pragmatism
Why it use to be the church was waging war primarily with the throes of secular humanism and evil-lutionism (per-say) But now we have the manace of relativism and pragmatism upon which generation(x)and generation (y) have gladly embraced wholeheartedly as being the "truth" AND THE BEST "PHILOSOPHY IN LIFE TO FOLLOW. Hmmm.
Somebody once said: as the world goeth ....so goeth the church!! Somebody once said what is the world coming to? Well it's already come to it! my friend ...And it can only get worse from here on out.
The psalmist David said of his generation: "The floods of ungodly men made me afraid"
And he said this also:
" Who will rise up with me against the evil doers"
" Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any peoples "
We can either accept the norm and status quo out there or we can rise above apathy and mediocrity and let our light so SHINE before men that they will see our good works and glorify the God of heaven!
( the choice is ours and the choice is yours )
As Jesus said " Salt is good! But if the salt has lost its savouor then it is fit for nothing except to be trodden under the foot of men and cast upon the dung heap!
Likewise the author of hebrews saith: In his own words: " But that which beareth thorns and briars is REJECTED, AND IS NIGH UNTO CURSING; whose end is to be burned.
We have the truth and we must declare it uncompromisingly as salt and light in a dark world
Else how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Or ELSE how shall we escape if we let the things which we have heard - SLIP? I ask??
It would not be unkind, uncharitable or even unfair to say the church for the most part and in the main is accepted by the world! It use to be ONLY tolerated BY THE WORLD - but now she is ACCEPTED!
MEDIOCRITY FRIENDS IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT WITH VERY LONG TENTACLES WILL REACH OUT AND MAKE YOU ITS SERVANT - THAT IS IF YOU DONT ARISE AND SHINE. That is If you dont like Samson of old shake yourself from the dust (ONE MORE TIME). AND BREAK its mould and break its shackles. And be avenged of the eyes the philistines have poked out! Indeed: The word of the Lord to us if you can recieve it: Is: BE A WITNESS AND BE A TESTIOMONY FOR CHRIST AND SHINE AS LIGHTS IN A VERY VERY DARK WORLD. Paul said it this way: In a perverse and crooked generation
One of things ive discovered and found about the lives of great men and women of God down through the ages was this thing that they called " mid-season slumps (or) this thing they described as incredible dry spells. Some have even descibed it as a "black hole" or a "wilderness wandering experience"! Upon which at the time you often dont feel you know the way out! The great apostle of the New testament said these words " we are perplexed, but not in despair " (Amen)
Perhaps your one of those individuals that im speaking to today that have never had to confront mediocrity and spiritual indifference? perhaps you have always been a trail blazer and burning light? That others come to warm-up by your fire! But to most however and to many ... we have known the struggles and we have known the trials and we have longed for spiritual refreshment! As times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.
Paul said to the Romans that i hope to impart some spiritual gift unto you! To the intent you might become established! and the mutual faith of both you and me, maybe of comfort to us both!
Friends complacency and mediocrity have long been the mortal enemies of the church and to all future awakenings within the church - and to the bringing forth children! For as soon as zion travailed - she brought forth children(doubtless)
The good news is however: Mediocrity is a Goliath that can be defeated! It can be thrown down, it can be trodden upon, it can be cut to size, and up-rooted! You can run up to that 9 feet 8 inches tall giant and lop its head off -- And like peter of old who lopped of the hight priest servants ear ( Impetous peter) ( well likewise in anaolgy form you can lop off the ears of mediocrity and begone with it, cast it off and away) and For good! And bring him down. The bigger they are the harder they fall (NO) Why did not the spies come back to the camp of God and bring an "evil report" which resulted in sending shivers down the spines of the children of israel saying "we are mere grasshoppers in there sight - and they giants"
This was an evil report and lacked faith in him who with outstretched arm and mighty hand brought out the fathers out from the house of bondage (Egypt) and judged that nation to whom they had brought them - into bondage.
Medoicrity is one of those things that creeps upon you and fastens itself upon you with the tightest of grips and wont let go without a fight or or without a struggle. It can be an iron yoke around your neck. And its insidious nature is such that its blindness and slumber comes upon you without notice and completely unawares!
Jesus had this to say to the church @ Laodicea: "Anoint thine eyes with eyesalve - that you might see" and that the nakedness of your shame does not appear. Hmmm.
For example you know mediocrity has well and truly SET IN when any of the following occurs:
** When you are thinking of the LIVE ball-game on television during the time of the service.
** When you are wishing an end to the sermon as the sunday lunch roast is waiting in the oven.
** When you are thinking of CONVERSATIONS with friends even before the service is completed.
** When you are thinking about your work schedule next week and how you can increase turnover.
** When you are thinking after the sermon is over how you will spend the rest of YOUR afternoon.
** When talk about business networking and computer (savvy talk) is more important than Jesus
When these things begin to dominate and to creep in...then of a surety the claws of mediocrity have well and truly set-in!! (watch out for this terrible menace of mediocrity beloved)
(As it has claimed many a victim in its time)
In fact: The menance of mediocrity can infect everyone else that comes into contact with it creeping paralysis! And not only that: But its infection can spread rapidly if not treated early! bearing in mind of course "that a little leaven can (leaven) the WHOLE lump. (Indeed)
The apostle warned them @ Galatia saying: Why now you observe this day and that day, you keep times, you wait for seasons, you hold to this festival and to that holiday! Im afraid of you! Your glorying is not good! Shall i praise you in this? I praise you not! Why do you desire to be in bondage again? And To all those weak and beggarly elements?? WHY WHY WHY
Someone might say? SO you dont keep christ-mas and easter then? Well put it this way: I can enjoy the day and reflect on the year that was (certainly) ( No problems with that) and i can enjoy the getting together of family and friends (most certainly) but as for the keeping of the day itself as such (as sacred) Then i trough not. I dont esteem the day at all ... (no not really) Its over commercialized, its over-rated, And there is no bona-fide proof Christ was born on that day! And besides he Christ never KEPT his own birthday, but he did ask us to remember his death, till he come! Contrarywise it was herod who in scripture that did (keep) his birthday and threw one hell of a big party with a dancing girl and much feasting and surfeiting (which incidently led to Johns premature death) To me its just another day and i dont esteem it. And besides: Is it not all over in 1 day? and then people forget about it and go about there business? Am i christmas hater then? Not at all! But do i see the day as sacred? NO! Do i esteem it? NO!
I thought to throw in that rabbit - andchase it.
The apostle made his point well both in Corinthians and in Galations "a LITTLE leaven leaveneth the whole lump"
Paul said @ corith these words: "purge out the old leaven, in order to become a new LUMP - as ye are unleavened. He went on to say the feast we now keep is the PASSOVER of christ, and not with the old leaven, neither with leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and of truth"
It doesnt take much leaven poured-in and added to dough in order for it to go through (the whole lump) and make it swell. The leaven in its tiniest (minute amount) causes this massive swelling to take place (i know years ago i once worked for a large pizza chain) and witnessed the effects of a little leaven - added to the mix !!
The apostle uses this comparison well and cautions the Galation believers that they are in danger of going into bondage to those (weak and beggarly elements). Whereunto mind you they desire to be in bondage again: And to whom a man is overcome The same is he brought into bondage.
Remember the phrase: "As the world goeth so goeth the church"
Instead of setting the tone: As salt and light we compromise and desire acceptance from the world
Contrarywise Jesus told his brethren this " the world cannot hate you " But " me it hates " " as i testify of its works, that they are evil"
Ever wondered why the modern church of today is not persecuted or hated? well right there in that one passage of John 7:7 you have your answer!
We are salt and we are light! We must raise the standard, not lower it! A city that is otherwise built on a hill cannot be hid! Neither do men light candlesticks to place them underneath beds
We have the truth and as ambassadors for Christ we must open our mouths boldly to declare the gospel message of TRUTH. AS THE TRUTH IS IN CHRIST JESUS! The truth is not in relativism or pragmatism or any other (ism) for that matter.
( The truth is not in some Guru figure or in alternative world religions or in the new age movement - the truth is in the gospel message of Jesus christ ...God's son !!!
We must NOT BE ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALAVATION...
God has chosen the foolishness of the cross to save the lives of men and women who mind you are rushing and plummeting headlong to a Christ-less eternity. ( unless they find Christ )
But we can intervene with a divine interruption and present the message of truth that christ died for there sins and THAT he rose from the dead on the 3rd day and confirmed the promise of "eternal-life" and that death itself ... HAS NOW BEEN DEFEATED!!!! (Glory)
Let me finish and bring this Word to a close by briefly submitting 5 key or 5 turn-key principles which are aids to mainting the fire-of-God and shrugging of this thing of spiritual mediocrity (once and for all)
Dry spells can't always be avoided or prevented but of a surety spiritual mediocrity can:
Number One: (Walk in truth)! If you KNOW THE TRUTH -then speak it forth boldly and walk in it! A lot of people know the truth - but few actually walk in it! (again Jesus told the jews if you continue in my word then you shall be my disciples in-deed) Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, decieving your ownselves! Nobody has to decieve when you have already done a good job of it yourself. By being a hearer of the word - ONLY.
Number Two: (Walk in the light)! God is light and has no darkness! no mixture! He is pure! 100% light is good way to define God with nothing hidden! always open honest and above board! Jesus told the high priest at his trial " I have spoken openly to the world and in SECRET have i said nothing " HMMM great reply by Jesus! Be open, be honest, be sincere! Conduct your affairs without blame that ye may be called (the sons of the highest) and men may "see" your good works - and glorify your father which is in heaven. Be known for your righteousness, not your unrighteousness. (Amen!)
Number Three: (Maintain seperation) Be not decieved beloved evil companions and wrong associations will corrupt good manners! (and by manners) paul meant a certain manner of life once embraced - not the courtesy speech of thanks and please! So what happened now that that has all changed? and for the worse paul asks? what a warning beloved! check your associations and the company you keep? what fellowship does christ have with unbelievers (or) with that of belial?
The keeping of bad company is surely a recipe towards spiritual mediocrity and utter disaster. ( unbelievers will pull you pown to there level surely if you fail to hold Christ the head ) Let us Look at Christ's example again from the book of hebrews " For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and SEPERATE from sinners " (with the word seperate being the operative word) poor choices in relation to the company we keep will drag us down and contaminate our walk with God! And Though you know these things already beloved i stir you up by way of remebrance. Peter said "beware lest YOU being led away by the error of the wicked fall from your own stedfastness"
(the position of strength you once had)
Number Four: (Keep thy first love) YES HOLD ON TO IT TIGHTLY. (very tighly) Indeed gaurd your first love jealousy - But should you lose it? then the remedy always lies in scripture - and the remedy is simple "REPENT" and do your first works over - Lest Jesus come quickly and remove the candlestick of his presence from you! likewise On a personal level the parallel to the church @ Ephesus is for us to stay passionate about Jesus and to be diligent to complete his works. (maintain good works as titus exhorts)
Number five: (Never ashamed of Jesus) As recipients of the ministry of reconciliation and the bearers of the "Good news of the Gospel" we have an obligation to share this precious truth of "salvation" with others who dont have the Gift! (The truth of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life though Jesus christ our Lord) Remembering Paul said "woe is unto me if i preach not the Gospel" it clearly wasn't a take it or leave it (option) woe is me if i declare not his Gospel. We read before there is no need to be ashamed of the Gospel! For it is the power of God - unto salvation! To the Jew first and then to the gentiles also ( Amen )!!
Brethren in the Lord: You have, hold, and possess the greatest gift a man can ever recieve and lay hold off! It's called ( ETERNAL LIFE ) WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS - WHY NOT SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE, THAT DOES NOT YET KNOW HIM? for he Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE sinners - THIS IS SOMETHING WE CAN ALL AFFIRM WITHOUT CONTROVERSY ( DOCTRINE WILL ALWAYS BE DEBATED AND ARGUED ...BUT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT CAN'T BE DISPUTED ( IT S CALLED THE CROSS OF CALVARY ) ( THAT CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS ) UPON WHICH MANY OF US WOULD DECLARE ALSO - THEY ARE CHIEF OF SINNERS. FINALLY Do you want to overcome complacency, dryness, mediocrity, listlessness, dry spells? Then be a witness and testimony for Jesus and re-capture and renew your desire to share Christ with others and WITH the lost. As all of heaven and the angels of heaven rejoice over the the one sinner that repents than over the the 99 righteous souls that have no need of repentance! Dont hide your light, Let it shine. RESCUE THE PERISHING AND SAVE THE DYING (Amen and Amen )!!!!!!!
For he that winneth souls - is wise!!
And they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever!
For the LAW of the Lord is perfect ...converting the soul.