Vol. 2, No. 37 – 9-10-2017
And they were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. Mark 7:37
I finished my undergraduate training at Regents External University, an institution that later became Excelsior University. The school allows itself to be used as a credit bank for students, who by nature of their work or calling, move frequently and cannot meet the matriculation requirements of many universities. Once the learner met all requirements, the student is recommended to the State University of New York for graduation consideration. I met the requirements and graduated from the university, SUNY-Albany.
Over the years, I did further work at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and Temple University, Philadelphia. I completed my MDiv and then worked toward my PhD degree. Eventually I earned my DMin. The word Excelsior is a term that implies superiority in skill and achievement; a picture of “going beyond” to attain the summit.
“Doing things well” is also translated “done with excellence.” When we think of the term excellence (excelsior), we cannot ignore its opposite—mediocrity.
Mediocrity, a Latin derivative, means “halfway up the mountain.” It is a very “so-so” effort. It is like doing only 40% of your test, and saying “that is enough.” It is the dentist that looks at your teeth to discover five teeth need fillings; however, the dentist only fixes two, leaving the other three for someone else to do. Halfway. It is running halfway and then stopping because you were neither prepared, nor interested in finishing the course. It does not even approach ordinary. It is also becoming the commonplace outcome of our culture.
Howard Hendricks indicated that we are a society that is producing manageable mediocrity—”anything is good enough.”
Mark, the Gospel writer, says that everything Jesus did, He did with excellence (excelsior).
- The deaf could now hear
- The hungry were fed
- The mute could now speak
- The dead were healed and raised
- The demon-possessed were freed from their torment
- Those who were in fear were calmed
We who serve the living Christ experience the same kind of audience. The deaf do not know of Christ, but they can hear of Him through our voice. There are those hungry for the gospel; they need to be fed the Word of God. The ones unable to speak of someone they know not, can be led to Christ and have great things to say about His presence and to say how another can be introduced to Him. The dead, drifting toward an eternal separation, can be healed and revived with new life in Christ. The tormented can be free; demonstrating their new freedom in Christ to those who knew them as possessed. The fearful can be introduced to the One who brings peace to the soul.
Who is to do this? Us. True excelsior lies in the treasure we contain. Do people we develop relationships with experience excelsior, or are they left to their own mediocrity?
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us. 2 Corinthians 5 18-20a
Some die in ashes; some die in flames; some die inch by inch, playing their little children’s games