(Note: This is the third in my Lent Series “Give It Up!” It is about the things we need to give up and not take back up at Easter)
14 Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God’s Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God’s creation, says:
15-17 “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
18 Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
19 “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!
20-21 Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!
22 Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”
As we continue looking at what we need to give up for Lent and beyond, today’s challenge is Give Up Mediocrity! Do you feel stuck in space and time? Then the culprit is more than likely mediocrity. And if you are comfortable or enjoying being stuck in space and time, then there is no doubt about it, you are living in amplified and magnified mediocrity.
What’s the definition of mediocrity? I’m so glad you asked. It’s The Quality Or State Of Being Only Ordinary Or Moderate Quality; Neither Good Nor Bad; Barely Adequate; The Consequence Of Being Average And Not Outstanding.
Maybe the synonyms for this word will bring the meaning into focus: undistinguished, commonplace, everyday; run-of-the-mill. It comes from the Latin that means “half-way up the mountain”. It was used to describe a mountain climber who made it half way up a mountain, but then came back down. Mediocrity Is Just Being Average, Or As Jesus Put It In His Message To Laodicea, “Lukewarm”.
We can decide that we are going to move beyond mediocrity and do something new. But pastor and writer Carey Nieuwhof said this in his series “Doing Time”: “The reality is this: That you still bring ‘you’ into anything new that you do.”
Several years ago, the Gallop poll asked this question: How Engaged Are You At Work? Engaged means they feel a sense of connection with their work and they are committed to doing the best they can. 71% responded they were Disengaged. Of the other 21%, 12% were on Facebook and 17% were playing Candy Crush. No, I made that part up. The truth is only 21% were engaged in their work; meaning they are connected to their work and have the desire to do the best job possible. Answer this question: How Engaged Are You? At work? With Community? With Family? In God’s Kingdom?
I wonder if we have theologized our way into mediocrity. I agree that the Spirit does the work and often works in spite of ourselves. But, have we relied so much on that theology that we don’t even try to do our own work and mission with a sense of being engaged because we have a theology that says, “Hey, God works even if we suck”?
Isaac Newton’s first law of motion is an object will remain motionless or uniform in motion unless acted upon by an external force. People are a lot like that—motionless or going through the motions until acted upon by some external force. So, if you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, this is it: Mediocrity Is Destroyed When Your Heart Is Fully Engaged With Life. There are not enough cosmetics to cover over this curse of mediocrity. No plastic surgeon is skillful enough to remove the scars created by the life of mediocrity.
Mediocrity is what provides the fuel for selfishness and that selfishness promotes that vile and wicked spirit of consumerism! Consumerism is a leach. Leeches attach themselves to other lives and sucks the life right out of them. There are 3 key symptoms of Mediocrity:
One Symptom Of Mediocrity Is Procrastination
Life can lose its sense of urgency. When you do, your priorities change from putting first things first, to putting yourself first. It becomes easier and easier to push God’s agenda aside. Procrastination is the failure to remain attentive to what God is doing and what God is wanting to be done. It is setting aside God’s desire for glory for our personal convenience. This is one reason why Mediocrity is a curse and fails to glorify God.
Another Symptom Of Mediocrity Is Lethargy
When I talk of lethargy, I mean a serious condition in which you literally don’t get anywhere in life. The lethargic person is that person who Greg Groeschel calls a “Christian atheist”—claiming to be Christian but living as if God doesn’t exist. I found this interesting about that word lethargy. It comes from the Greek word meaning “forgetfulness”. It’s forgetting what is most important in life. Lethargy is the failure to take it upon yourself to take action in your life and make the best of it. So you become just average. Mediocrity is a curse because it doesn’t change what’s wrong in your heart, and you fail to glorify God.
The Third Symptom Of Mediocrity Is Timidity
Timidity is the failure to trust God with all aspects of your life. Timidity finds all kinds of excuses, great sounding excuses why you cannot excel in life. Timidity promotes that false humility which excludes you from what God wants to do with your life for your community. Accepting average for and from yourself closes the door to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. Because Mediocrity promotes that false humility, it fails to glorify God.
Think of being mediocre and being lukewarm as one in the same—because they are. This was the problem at Laodicea. Doing just enough to feel good about themselves while sinking down like they were in quicksand; and that will literally crush our lives. An ordinary life never experiences the extraordinary Grace of God. So how can we break free of being just average? Well, may I suggest you begin doing what Jesus told the church at Laodicea to do? 3 critical decisions you need to make for God to break you free from Mediocrity:
Step 1: Commit Your Life To Holiness
Vs. 18a—Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Holiness is found by living each day within The Virtues Of God. And Paul gives us a practical but challenging way to live in these Virtues in Philippians 4:8—Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. When you fill your mind with these things, your words and actions become Holy and YOU become Holy. We live by the things we think about. Step 2:
Step 2: Decide To Live Righteously
Vs. 18b—Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. God wants to make us righteous and He does by giving us the righteousness of Christ. Then God wants us to live righteously—to live in the right way. Paul describes this in Colossians 3:12-13—So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. Treat people the way Jesus treats them. Help people the way Jesus helps them. Let every decision be what is right—not what is easy or convenient. Step 3:
Step 3: Become Engaged With God’s Mission
Vs. 18c—And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see. God’s Mission is clear in 2 Corinthians 5:19-20—God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. Average and ordinary simply does not cut the mustard when it comes to the Mission of God. If you are not bringing people to Jesus, you’re failing in the Mission. It takes extraordinary people—and you will become extraordinary when you are filled with the Holy Spirit and allow The Spirit to equip and empower you for God’s Mission.
Do you feel stuck in space and time? Then the culprit is more than likely mediocrity. And if you are comfortable or enjoying being stuck in space and time, then there is no doubt about it, you are living in amplified and magnified mediocrity. And you make God nauseated. Don’t be lukewarm! Be cold or hot, but don’t make God nauseated.