Worship Mediocrity

(older post) I love music nostalgia. Over the past, I have listened to many genres of music. Today I decided to delve into my seventh grade punk rock phase. The band of choice? Bad Religion. This is not your average punk rock band. Most punk rocker musicians are intellectual, but misunderstood people that may or may not have a formal education. The lead singer of Bad Religion is a college professor. You read that correctly. The vocalist.. for a punk band… UCLA professor. The title of his Ph.D. dissertation at Cornell University was “Evolution, Monism, Atheism, and the Naturalist World-View: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology.” When you have this as your background, and choose to write songs, you can imagine that there is a great deal of intellectual depth underneath the lyrics.

As a Christian it is important to learn as much as one can of many viewpoints. Yes, even from evolutionist, atheist, paleontology professors that write punk rock music, that is often “edgy.” Personally, I learn more about my own faith in God, faith in Christ, by engaging in this type of exploration. Burning their “secular” CD’s is frankly idiotic. No, that wasn’t a screeching demon, that was gas escaping from the melting plastic (had to steal that from my friend Ben Sledge).

The lyrics that hit me today while riding in my Jeep were “Ignoring mortality, we worship mediocrity, and wait to see what happens up on high.” His observation is quite astute. Is this not what we see in our country? I reference our country because I do not have experience in the rest of the world. This line from the song is an unfortunate reality on many levels. But…why? Why is this a reality? I think… It is fear. It is comfort. It is delusion. It is a bad theological framework that says you say a prayer or eat a wafer to gain “salvation” and then ride out life until you die. Then… Heaven! (sound the applause).

Does this resemble the teachings of Jesus or the examples of the early church at all? The gospels and Acts are quite radical writings. They surely do not promote the worshipping of mediocrity. Rather, concepts such as religion is caring for the orphan, widow, sick, poor, the oppressed (James 1:27, Matthew 25:31–46), radical generosity (Luke 21:1–4, Matthew 19:21, Acts 4:32–25, 1 John 3:17–18), pursuit of justice (Proverbs 28:5, Isaiah 1:17, Matthew 23:23, Proverbs 14:31). Love God, love people. Part of the importance of Jesus, was His sacrifice on the cross and the resurrection. Equally important an practically applicable is the example He lived and His invitation to follow, to do likewise.

One cannot worship mediocrity and worship Jesus. It cannot be done. One cannot even accept mediocrity as a Jesus follower. He does not give us that option. He compels us to take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23).

Jesus didn’t worship mediocrity. He didn’t accept it. In Revelation 3 the writer states God loathes lukewarmness. He states that those who are lukewarm, neither hot, nor cold, he will spit out of his mouth! His reference to hot means soothing, cold means refreshing. Lukewarm is neither and in this instance, useless to the point of rejection. Mediocrity is lukewarm.

We live in a nation that prides itself on its Christian heritage. The United States, with less than 5 % of the global population, uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources — burning up nearly 25 % of the coal, 26 % of the oil, and 27 % of the world’s natural gas (1). We built our nation on bloodshed and slavery, and the reality is that that has not changed. It has just changed forms. Instead of “legally” owning people to work the fields, we now do business with people in other countries who exploit the “least of these” as described in the scriptures (Matthew 25:31–46). Even though the spin regarding these conditions as an opportunity, the reality is it is just shy of slavery, sometimes not even that shy. Deferring a problem to another country isn’t dealing with it. Much of our retail economy is based on this. It will collapse; the question is how and when. God will hold these people accountable (Matthew 25:31–46). Try to buy clothing or electronics that haven’t been made this way, it is nearly impossible. Observing this is and rebuking it is not “un-American,” rather, it is the opposite. This isn’t about America in itself, , rather about what people do under the label “Christian.” I don’t mean to just harp on us, but we American Christians have our work cut out for us just as Christians in any society, it is just that so many American’s associate the US with Christianity.

So……

Can one, in good conscience accept this “mediocrity,” this way of the western world and not care.. and call oneself a Christian? Can one say one is saved and not care that Christians, Jews, Muslims, men, women, children, etc. are being raped and murdered throughout the world? Can one say he or she shows the fruits of the spirit and not care that people have been beaten, imprisoned, killed, or have committed suicide because of their sexual orientation (yes I went there)?

Granted, no one person can tackle all of these issues. The status quo is in direct opposition to the Kingdom of God, and if we are not challenging the status quo it whatever small or large way we are able and led, then I do have to question one’s salvation. If we continue to ignore mortality and worship mediocrity, I do not want to see what happens up on high (Matthew 25:31–46, Matthew 7:21–23)

Ezekiel 16:49–50: “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

PS: I struggle with comfort and mediocrity myself, this isn’t a lecture from someone who has it figured out.

(1) — http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810