Mediocrity. This should be a word that generates in the Christian shivers of disgust. But as it is, we dont feel one way or another about it. Jesus said he will spit out mediocrity, or lukewarmness. Is there any mediocrity about God? Is there anything that He does just enough to get by?
Imagine that scenario. A mediocre God. A God that doesnt care one way or another about things. Imagine going to heaven and asking God the question you have been dying (quite literally in this scenario) to know. And in response God says “Eh, either way, I was always kinda on the fence on that one.” Words I doubt very strongly you’d hear. I have a suspicion that though God may be behind the “what came first, chicken or egg” riddle, he’s not behind “six to one, half a dozen to the other.”
God is a God of extremes. He likes hot or cold. There is no shadow of turning in Him. He is light with no darkness. He is Mercy and He is Justice. He tells us to be great we have to be least. Opposites and extremes.
So how does mediocrity set in? As humans we follow the path of least resistance. And we tend to follow our desires. Marry those two and have a child and name it Medicore.
Christian art was not always mediocre. Some of the worlds finest artists, the masters were believers who created for glory and beauty. Michelangelo, Handel, Bach… But somehow we’ve lost that excellent feeling.
Lets face it, if Lewis and Tolkien convene an Inklings in heaven, there wont be many inductees from the 70-00’s, and fewer from America. When Handel auditions for his band, will our generation be represented?
What has happened in the Christian book and music industry? A major factor is that the talent pool is less crowded, there is less competition. Many Christian authors and musicians could never compete in the mainstream. Some have tried (and been beaten up by the church), and many have come crawling back after suffering poor sales.
An article about Mercy Me that ran in national newspapers a few years ago ended with the lines “The devil may have the best music (for now), but can he match that business model.” Ouch. That is a stinging redress coming from a nationally recognized publication and non-believer.
Gone are the days when the Christian is assumed to be the harder worker, the better musician, the one with integrity. We need to take this back. As Christian artists, if we cannot compete in the mainstream market place, we should not be creating for public consumption.
That sounds harsh and overly simplistic, but I think thats the bottom line. God did not create us to be second rate. He didnt create us to be mediocre. In America, we have to be particularly careful because success is seen as Gods favor. The Hebrews of Jesus day had the same problem. Just because you are offered a record deal or a publishing deal, that does not automatically mean God is in it. Especially when the offer comes from an industry that is doing little to glorify Him, and a lot to take advantage of His people.
Jesus said we were sheep and we often act like it. Just following each other around with no sense of danger around us. But Jesus qualified His statement about sheep saying, I am sending you out, kinda like sheep into a forest of wolves. So don’t act like sheep, you need to be wise like a serpent, but be harmless like doves.
We got the harmless part right, but in the wrong sense. We are harmless and ineffective, not harmless in that we don’t cause people pain. By not being able to compete in the world stage, we have abdicated the world to the wolves. We have decided its safer in the pen with the other sheep. Problem is, thats just not in the Bible.
We need to commit to being excellent in all that we do and leave mediocrity behind. And that means making some hard choices.
Listen, if you are so set on a record deal or publishing deal that you are willing to be signed by a Christian label and not fight it out among the rest of the world, then your motives are wrong. You are chasing fame. God will promote you when you do the hard things.
And the hard things are wait, practice, and pay dues. Dont skip over that middle one. Practice your draft. That is how you move out of mediocrity. Romans and James both talk about how trials (paying dues) produce patience (waiting) and patience produces character (excellence). Don’t circumvent the process or set the prize too low.