Humans at their best are a wonder. Humans at their worst are a horror. And humans in their everyday mode?
Well, they vary so much that it’s hard to generalize. But few, it seems, strive for their best in all matters.
Here’s something that a lot of Christians might not know—or keep in mind— about Jesus’ reputation in the First Century:
“And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well.” Mark 7:37a
They found this astonishing that a person would be excellent like that. And what’s more, his followers were expected to be excellent, too:
“….[He] called us to his own glory and excellence,” 2 Peter 1:3
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:8
They were expected to dedicate their own behavior to Jesus:
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” Colossians 3:23a
And again:”And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, ….” Colossians 3:17a
They were to use their minds to determine what was excellent:
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent,” Philippians 1:9
And they were to keep themselves in an attitude of excellence:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
And how demanding was this call to excellence? Well, they were to “make every effort” to maintain an excellence of character and maturity:
2 Peter 3:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Somehow, Jesus inspired in that generation of believers an excellence of spirit that doesn’t seem to be widely accepted today as the proper standard for the Christian mindset. The difference is like night and day. I’m not sure I fully understand why so few really seem to “get it” when it comes to the value of Jesus’ excellence. It’s likely, I suppose, that there’s more than one reason behind it. But I can tell you that the people who light up my life the most are the ones who are getting it more and more. I think that there are a lot of things in life that are very much worth working for!
How ironic that so many millions would go to church week after week for their whole lives, and yet never discover the value of Jesus’ excellence—and that their churches would never take on an obvious character of excellence in how the people are expected to conduct themselves.