I came across this little quote of"Once we have satisfied the minimum requirements, we tend to stop pushing ourselves." And I don't know if truer, more applicable, words have ever been spoken outside of Scripture.
The statement is particularly relevant in today's context, especially the context of the 21st century American teenager. Credit Alex and Brett Harris--no surprise there--for making the observation. This statement is, in one very real sense, the very essence of my life. I meet the minimum specifications necessary to be considered "smart," "diligent," or "responsible," and stop there. This is particularly evident in the academic sphere. In a music and art class last semester, for instance, the instructor dropped one's lowest test score. After acing the first four exams, I didn't take the test or even study the material. In fact, I skipped the last two weeks of class because I had free misses that I could take without penalty. And guess what, everyone respected me for that and patted me on the back for "finishing" a class up a week early. This took place at a Christian college with fairly high academic standards.
Please don't get me wrong here. I'm not condemning my college or my friends at college. There's nothing wrong with rewarding hard work with a little slack at the end of the semester. The problem is this. The class was a piece of cake. It was not hard to meet the minimum expectations for the course, yet I still slacked off. Even after learning so little, I still slacked off on the end. . .probably so I could play more ultimate frisbee while maintaining a normal sleep pattern.
Do not dismiss me. This is no isolated incident. Our education system, our entire nation for that matter, is falling apart because we and our fathers have set low expectations for ourselves. I'm gearing up for a rant on this later, but we'll leave it at that for now.
This principle extends further, I believe, into the spiritual realm as well. The minimum standards for "holiness" (empahsis on those quotation marks) are pretty pitiful. Don't drink, don't smoke, go to church once or twice a week, and wait until marriage to have sex. Just like that, you stand out from the world and become a "good" Christian. Our society has become so depraved. It is not hard to be counter-cultural in some degree. Even gray contrasts with black.
But why are we content to be merely gray. Why are we Christians not shining white lights?
Could it be the low moral expectations we set for ourselves? Are our standards of holiness judged by the character of God or merely set a notch of two above the sinful world around us? We talk a lot about doing radical things for Jesus. Okay, so what does it mean to be "radical?"
"Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called." I have tried to meditate on that many times. The cross is the most radical, amazing, counter-human-nature thing ever to happen. How big, how pure, how beautiful, is the gospel--the message that saved us?
Pretty sinking huge, even infinite. That, my Christian friend, is our standard. Our calling goes beyond anything this world could produce, for we are servants of the living God. Are those standards high enough? Will that keep you working like no other to walk worthy?
It better, because no other standard will.