“For consider your calling, brothers; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, so that as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:26-3)
Despite the world’s attempts to tell me to “be strong”, I have always been the “whatever” kid. I was always just sorta “mediocre” and it was comfortable for me. In fact, I would always prefer to stay at a mediocre level than to try (even when I had the skill or potential) to be better because at least I wouldn’t fail, or worse, make a complete ass of myself. Take theater for example. I loved it. It was my “thing”, you know? For whatever reason, acting was my one release from my introvert personality. I was good at it (or so everyone always said so). I enjoyed it. I thrived on it. I never went out for the lead role, though. Weird, I know. Because with the lead role, everyone would be counting on me to get it right. And more than likely, someone better than me would get the role anyway, so why bother? I would just end up picking the quirky role instead. My theater teacher even commented once that she found it funny that the roles I always chose were “flighty characters”. She thought it was telling. I wanted to punch her because I thought she was referring to my dating habits. But, that’s another story…Dance was the other thing. I took dance and I loved it. I was afraid to try big leaps and toe touches, because I didn’t think I could do it and I didn’t want to look like a jerk. My dance teacher saw the potential there though and pushed me. I learned that I could do a lot more than I thought, in fact, I nailed it every time. But when she asked me to try out for drill team every year I said no. Why? Fear of failure. I’d rather just enjoy the dancing, even though there was a nagging in my heart to do more. I just pushed it down. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to lose the approval. They think I can do it, I don’t want to prove them wrong. So I just blew it off.
Somehow though when the church said to me, “be strong”, there was something in me that believed mediocrity wasn’t an option. I thought I had to keep working and pushing hard to continue to have the approval of God and my peers. If the church said, “avoid these things and you won’t fall into these sins”, I avoided those things. When the church said, “do this stuff and be super spiritual and godly”, I did that stuff. I rode the unicycle with the stack of books on my head while juggling the flaming batons and whistling “Yankee Doodle” because I needed to continue to be loved. Thankfully, Jesus came along and stuck a stick through the spoke of my unicycle tire and my entire act came crashing down. He picked me up off of the ground, brushed off my banged up knees, smiled at my singed eyebrows, and kissed my flushed cheeks. He looked into my tear filled eyes and lovingly whispered, “I finished it, what are you doing?”
I’ve quit my side show gig but it’s still hard, you know? When the “spiritually competent” come around and start wielding their memory verses around, turning principles into law. It’s tempting to pick the unicycle back up and start pedaling again. It’s tempting to be intimidated by the people who seem to have their acts together. The moralists really like to back us “free gracers” into a corner and make us doubt the goodness of God in the gospel alone. Our palms start to sweat, our cheeks get flushed, our hearts race. “Am I crazy? Is the gospel this good? Am I just a fool?” The moralists have been doing that to people forever. They used to be called the Pharisees. Oh, they knew scripture better than anyone. They intimidated everyone. They pushed the weak losers away from God and only let the strong in. They were masters of the unicycle juggling act. And they completely missed the gospel. It was right under their noses, clear as day and they missed it. Just like the moralists are missing it now. So when you are discouraged and embarrassed because everyone else is preforming their latest trick, remember the gospel. Remember that Jesus finished it. Remember your crash and burn and how Jesus lovingly picked you up and set you free from your circus act. Remember that God has intended to use the weak to shame the strong. We aren’t being “mediocre Christians”. We have been given the freedom in Christ to fail. He loves us so much that he did everything FOR US! I heard Elyse Fitzpatrick say on TV last night, “God’s expectations are not unmet. He expects us to sin and we do. He expected Jesus to obey perfectly in our place and He did!” Don’t be embarrassed to know only “Christ and Him crucified” among the moralists. Keep shouting it above the “Yankee Doodle” whistling as they wheel past. You never know when Jesus might just poke a stick through their spokes…