It is a sad but nonetheless true thing that in our society more and more folks are looking to do the least they can to get by. For years I have been telling young people to reject mediocrity. For too many folks, mediocrity would be a substantial step ‘up.

We see it when we go into a place of business and are made to feel as if we (the customers!) are an imposition to the clerk’s daily routine. Teachers see it in students who refuse to work. Students even see it in some teachers who are ill prepared. Our factories and offices have slackers in them and their lack of effort makes it hard on others who try to do their best. You are probably thinking of many other examples that could be cited.

A good name for this phenomenon is the “What do I have to do?” attitude. Folks who think like this always want to know the bare minimum required to get by. We’re all like this in some areas of our lives. After all nobody is expertly effective in all they do. But when this attitude is pervasive to the point that it extends to all aspects of one’s life, it is a dangerous and destructive thing.

Nowhere is this danger more significant than in the spiritual realm. People seem offended to learn that God has requirements that must be met if He is to be pleased. But He does. “If (since) you love me, keep my commandments” said Jesus in John 14:15. God expects us to do His will.

You remember the jailor at Phiippi asking Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?’ (Acts 16:30). He was taught God’s will and he obeyed it (Acts 16:33). He did not quibble about baptism being too much to do. What God required he rejoiced in being able to do. He was not interested in ascertaining the minimal requirements for salvation.. .He just wanted to be saved.

This idea has application for folks who are already members of the church. I have from time to time run into this same attitude among our own people and here it is most troubling. I heard it expressed like this:
“Well I don’t mind going to preaching, but I don’t think I have to go to class.” Or “I’ll go to services, but I have other things to do with my money (or time).” I’ve even had folks almost dare me to prove that they have to come on Sunday or Wednesday night!

Well, the problem here is the attitude we’ve been discussing. I’ll never forget hearing brother Guy N. Woods answer questions after he’d preached one night in Tennessee. The question was “How many services do we have to attend in a week?’ Brother Woods had what one might call a uniquely direct approach to such questions. I believe his reply went about like this: “Your real problem is revealed in your question. Christian service is not a “have to”. matter. It is a “want to” thing. Your duty must become your desire.” Case closed, next question.

Of course, the preacher was right. As long as we look at our religion the way many people look at life these days, we cannot hope to be happy nor settled in our souls. To paraphrase Woods, Christianity is not something we have to do; it is rather somiething we get to do. God has His requirements. We must indeed obey Him. If our hearts are right, things like this are no problem at all. And it is surely one of life’s great blessings that we are allowed to do His will.

By Bill Irby

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