Stop Settling for Mediocre!
What does it mean to be a Christian? Or in the words of today's gospel, how do you know if you are keeping Jesus' word? In today's day and age, It is common to describe a Christian as someone who is nice or to define the Christian life with the word kindness. Those things are good, no doubt. You should be nice and you should be kind. But the thing is, a world of nice people doing acts of kindness with their backs turned on God, would be just as much in need of saving as a miserable and greedy one, and it may be even more difficult to save. So being nice and kind, they aren't enough to qualify fully as signs of keeping Jesus' word. So what is, and it's a question I am really interested in exploring right now in my life
Because I've started to develop this sense that something in my life is, well, it's out of line with the gospel, and I'm not sure what it is, and so I'm not sure what to do about it. I started doing some reading, searching for an answer, and I came across something from Fulton Sheen that has done nothing short of rock my world. Sheen writes that to be a Christian is to be someone who is superior. If you're like me, then you might recoil at the word superior, right? Like, isn't superior a word that means domination over others? Doesn't it lead to boastfulness and egotism and self-will and even cruelty? But to Sheen, when Jesus said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." He was saying, "A Christian is someone who strives for self-perfection in spiritual and moral life in such a way that they live spiritually and morally superior to the standard of their times."
Essentially, a Christian is someone who lives above and beyond what everyone else is doing. And while compelling, I still felt uncomfortable with the word superior. I've met too many unfortunate people who call themselves Christians, who place themselves on a pedestal in order to judge and condemn those below them and to flaunt their self-perceived superiority over others. But that's not what Sheen meant. And I read further and read further, and I came across these words. Sheen writes, "No personality is expressed on the average level. The development of a spiritual personality is in going the extra mile and challenging conventional morality. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him. Two of your own accord. The weakness of our age is in want of great men and women."
I finished reading that, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't speak for a few hours. I had to let the weight of his words just kind of pour over me for a while. The weakness of our age is not want of great men. It's a want for me to be a great man and for you to be a great man or woman. Let me ask you a few questions, how much of your life is stalled in mediocrity? How much of your spiritual potential goes unrealized every day? When was the last time someone asked you to go a mile and you went too? My answers to these questions, they disturb me because the truth is there are some ways in which I keep God's word in some ways that I have traded the greatness of God's way for the world's crummy, subpar, selfish, nonsensical, ridiculous, mediocre way.
I give money as the world gives safely. I spend too much of my time the way the world spends too much of its time with my head and my phone. My days are like the days of the world an all-out sprint full of busy without intentional time for silence or solitude as often as I should have silence, or solitude, or at least as often as my soul needs. I love as the world loves exclusively to those who love me back. And I forgive as the world forgives conditionally. My list goes on and as I sit here, I find myself in that beautiful but piercing place, an unresolved place we sometimes get to in life.
Okay, I'm in pain over the awareness of just how far I am from who I could be. But I'm also full of hope that somehow this gift of awareness combined with the Grace and power Jesus promises in the Holy Spirit, will lead me to becoming superior to who I was yesterday. Today I challenge you to have the courage to make your own list. Write down the ways that you keep God's word and the ways that you don't. And then together let's turn our back on the ways of the world. Let's turn our back on the ways of the world in a way that is final and forever. And run without fear or hesitation toward the superior ways of God.