In a society that spouts success stories, Christians often live in a state of mediocrity. Oh, they might have successful careers, lavish homes and amazing vacations, but their spiritual life needs resuscitation.
Maybe this isn’t true for you. Unfortunately, many Bible scholars say we are living in the Laodicean Age. I’m not sure I fully ascribe to this interpretation of those passages in Revelation chapter 3, but unless you’re blind, it doesn’t take much to see a lack of spiritual fire in our country and communities.
“Whatsoever therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In twenty-first century America, we are more about eating and drinking to our heart’s content with little thought to whether or not God gets anything out of it. And glory? We would rather take all that for ourselves.
This is selfishness. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come: for men shall be lovers of their own selves” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Based on the amount of focus we spend on how to get what we want, I’d say these are the last days. Listen in on a conversation after church next Sunday. How much will be about doing things for God? Comparatively, how much focuses on what’s right or wrong or happening in our personal lives?
These are indeed dangerous times for Christians. Our lives might not be in danger physically, but our spiritual man suffers from starvation and neglect.
In order to avoid mediocre Christianity, we have to admit our selfishness, deny ourselves, take up our God-called purpose and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24).
Most of the time, our selfish living leads to sinful living. But there are a few of us who are convinced we are living for God.
A closer look into our private lives reveals something very different. We might not be partying or sleeping around or cussing up a storm. In fact, most people would agree that we’re “pretty good” Christians.
What if they checked our Netflix queue? Viewed our Internet browser’s cache? Saw our TV viewing history? Or picked up the book we were reading?
Maybe they’ll listen in on our phone conversations, too.
Will that paint a different picture?
Maybe not. Maybe you’re outward life is under control. Unfortunately, in the latter days Timothy was warned about, Paul said there would be plenty of people who had “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5).
This means there is no power in their spiritual life. They’re all talk and no walk. Their good deeds are based on pride or a sense of duty, rather than being motivated by the Spirit of God’s urging.
Without the power of God on our side, we’re doomed to a state of mediocrity. On our own, we’re lion bait, and the devil’s happy to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
Sometimes we’re so ineffective, Satan doesn’t even bother with us. We’re doing enough damage to our testimony and the work of Christ without any help from him. And that’s a sad thought.
How then can the selfish and sinful human rise above mediocrity?
This post isn’t meant to be all bad news. Just like Paul’s second letter to Timothy wasn’t filled with doom and gloom.
The prescription for a successful “manner of life” is given in God’s Word. Some of the most quoted verses from 2 Timothy finish out the third chapter, the same chapter that spoke of perilous times.
In order to move above mediocrity, we need to “continue in the things” the scripture taught us (2 Timothy 3:14). Because the inspired Word of God is the only thing that will perfect and furnish us for all good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The world is a cesspool of sin and selfishness. To rise above it, we must purposefully step out of the crud and into the light of God’s Word. This means separating ourselves from the desire to succeed according to the standards of those around us.
For the next two weeks, we’ll look at avoiding mediocre service and worship and then wrap up the month with a closer look at the lukewarmness of Laodicea.
Next Week: Mediocre Worship