Saw this tweet from the Pope himself this morning (yes, I follow the Pope on Twitter) and it made me think. “Do not be mediocre; the Christian life challenges us with great ideals.” It gives one time to pause. Don’t be mediocre.
Yeah. That can be me at times, I think. Mediocre, living a “meh” spiritual life at times. Mediocre, living life in the middle lane–not the fast lane, but not that lane where the dude has his clicker on for like forever and going 55 mph when the speed limit is clearly 70. It’s in the middle. It’s in between. It’s neither hot nor cold. Mediocre is just existing and being in a way that is apathetically ambivalent.
But we’re not called to be mediocre. We’re called to thrive. We are called to be more. We are called to be extraordinary.
I love what Paul writes to his student Timothy:
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
We can be spiritually “meh” about things–apathetically ambivalent–or we can step forward in a power, in a love, in a self-discipline like never before. Okay, power and love we like, but self-discipline? That’s part of living a thriving spiritual life more than anything else.
But the power and love we speak of here is much different than what you might be thinking. The power is a strong spiritual power rooted in the work and movement of the Holy Spirit. We like being spiritual. It’s great to have some spiritual thing in our lives. But this is more than that. To be truly spiritual is to be a follower of Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives within you (Romans 8:10-11) and empowers you. The Holy Spirit works and gives you the power needed to go forward. The Holy Spirit makes you truly spiritually alive. This power isn’t political, it’s not metaphorical, it’s not militaristic, it is the power of God. The same Spirit that lives in you in Jesus is the same Spirit which raised Jesus form the dead (Romans 8:11). He is the same Spirit which was with God in the creation of the world. He is the same Spirit that decended upon the prophets. And He fills you through Jesus and grants you the power to go forward and truly live.
And this love which is spoken about isn’t the let’s-love-one-another-because-we-didn’t-have-enough-love-in-our-childhood-and-we-all-should-get-along type of love. It is the true love of God that encompasses all things. It is the true love of God that binds together the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this love, an all encompassing, unconditional-warts-and-all type of love. It is a love we have because we are first loved by God. It is a love which is just putting up with someone’s issues and…crud. It is a love that desires to love someone despite themselves and help them grow into who they are meant to be in God through Jesus.
This is the power and love we are given by the Holy Spirit. This shouldn’t be a timidity. This shouldn’t be something we’re “meh” about. It is something we are to embrace. And it calls for a self-discipline. Self-discipline brings about images of waking up at like 5am (yes, there’s actually another 5 o’clock out there and it happens before the sun comes up) and doing stuff like push ups and sit ups and running 12 miles and stuff like that. Self-discipline doesn’t sound fun. The thing about self-discipline is that it forces us to focus. It makes us truly work on what we’re doing.
“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13
And in another place, Paul talks about the importance of his own self-discipline
“I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Self-discipline is what binds together our relying on God’s power and love and living this power and love. When we live this spiritual self-discipline of seeking God in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to live this power and love which the Spirit gives us.
Don’t live spiritually “meh.” Don’t live the mediocre. When you’re neither hot nor cold you become vomitus (Revelation 3:16). Don’t live a mediocre spirituality. Live it to the fullest. Live it filled with the power and love of God with self-discipline. The life following Jesus is an awesome journey, don’t just take the touristy way through, but experience it in its fullness without meritocracy or “meh-ness.”
Be spiritually alive to the fullest.