This past weekend I packed my duffle bag with sweatshirts and long johns, grabbed a sleeping bag, and headed out to Frankfort’s Camp Manitoqua with 40 other youth and youth leaders for a Winter Excursion. Our Hickory Creek student ministry joined with the student ministry of Palmer Park Baptist Church for this first ever retreat organized by their youth pastor, Justin, and myself. Justin’s brother, Ryan, came along as our special speaker, and we were also blessed to be led in worship by another friend, Chad, and his band. After all of the organization and planning, it was great to get in the car on Friday to drive to the camp and simply release the rest of the details to God.

Once we arrived at the camp, four worship/teaching sessions, meals, skits, board games, night games, an afternoon at a local fitness club for swimming, rock-climbing, wallyball, and basketball, not to mention staying up fairly late, made for a non-stop weekend. Yet we took time to pause and consider the theme of the weekend – “Imagine… moving beyond mediocre” – and I guess I’m still considering what that means.

What is mediocre in a general sense? Synonyms might include ordinary, average, middle of the road, second-rate. So to move beyond the mediocre Christian life is to refuse to accept the average, second-rate, ordinary, middle of the road Christian life that so many do… that I often do. The mediocre Christian life is the life consumed with self, ignoring the greater purposes and plans of God in the world. The second-rate Christian life ignores the opportunity to joyfully live to make God great and settles for the frustrating life of seeking joy in all the wrong places. It is a lot like life apart from Christ, except for the awful truth that the mediocre Christian life says, “Though I am a child of the King of kings, I’m going to willfully choose to live in the slums of earth rather than enjoy my present and future inheritance with Christ.”

I was given a Rich Mullins CD for Christmas – I figured that since all of the Christian artists I love always talk about his music and because our worship leader, Simon, is always talking about him, that I should follow their lead. I keep thinking of a line from the song “If I Stand” that says, “The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things.” The mediocre Christian life lets the stuff of earth win. It bows in worship to gods who can not answer and seeks to drink from cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:12-13). I’m praying for the students who went and for myself that 2009 involves less worship of the “stuff of earth” and more bowing humbly at the feet of Jesus, who has bought all good things for us through his death and resurrection. I can’t begin to imagine what God would do in my life, the lives of our students, and the life of our youth group if we truly refused to accept the cheap, second-rate Christianity that simply adds Jesus to the sum total of a person’s life and, instead, chose to make him the all-satisfying center and source of joy and peace in our lives. With God’s help, we will move beyond the mediocre.