Paltry mediocrity

Paltry mediocrity

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for the light makes everything visible. – Ephesians 5:13-14

John 3:19-21

 19 God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Albert Einstein found great affinity with Mozart. Einstein was able to discover and extract secrets from the intelligently designed and created universe. Einstein enhanced the discipline of modern physics by quantum leaps.

Einstein sensed that Mozart had discovered and extracted his music in a very similar fashion. “Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe” (Einstein). Einstein suggested that, whereas Beethoven “created” his music, Mozart’s music “seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master” (Einstein).

The ethereal beauty yet sublime simplicity of Mozart’s music is depicted in the 1984 film, Amadeus. In the film, Antonio Salieri is Mozart’s antagonist. Salieri was a man of modest musical talent. But he had the ability to recognize the magnificent, unmatched talent of Mozart. Salieri adored Mozart’s music, but hated Mozart himself, due to seething resentment and envy.

Salieri glances at some of Mozart’s complete handwritten, original compositions. He recognizes the sublime genius and beauty of the music. The autographs were written at one sitting without edits or errors. Salieri exclaims, “music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.”

Under the guise of faux friendship, Salieri “assists” Mozart in writing the composer’s final work, the Requiem Mass in D minor. Salieri desperately desires to be the equal of Mozart in the composition of music, but recognizes he could never be. He acknowledges his own mediocrity. Salieri, dubs himself, “the patron saint of mediocrity.”

The Lord Jesus Christ identifies mediocrity as a form of evil. He is not referring to all mediocrity but rather He had something very particular in mind. It is not about lacking skill or capability. Every person has a continuum of skill sets. Some of their skills are excellent, others not so much. The mediocrity which the Lord Jesus Christ calls evil, is that type of mediocrity or inadequacy of which people are well aware, but pretend that it does not exist.

Rather than working to overcome their weaknesses and improve their skills, they hide their inadequacy and incompetence and put up a false face. The hallmark of this type of mediocrity is resentment. That is, the resentment of the capability, skill, and talent of others that produces success and achievement. In the presence of greatness, the mediocre shake inwardly, fearful that they might be exposed.

So it was with the religious leaders at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:19-20

 19 God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

REFLECT & PRAY 

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius” (Arthur Conan Doyle).

Father, the idea of living in paltry mediocrity should be appalling to the children of the King. Convict our hearts regarding this form of evil.

INSIGHT 

Two different Greek words are translated evil in John 3:19-20. In John 3:19, the Greek term translated evil is poneros. The semantic domain of Poneros covers a broad spectrum of evil. It has the connotation of being wicked, malicious, bad, morally wrong, morally corrupt, vicious, degenerate, or harmful. The English word pornography is derived from this term.

In John 3:20, the Greek term translated evil is phaulos. Phaulos does not connote something which is overtly evil or wicked. But rather consists of something far more subtle yet insidious: paltry mediocrity. The English word paltry is derived from Phaulos. It can be translated mediocre, insignificant, meager, worthless, good–for–nothing, depraved, or base. That which is mediocre is relatively inferior in quality, ordinary, substandard, or lacks in importance or worth.

The religious leaders avoided the light because they did not want their mediocrity or inferiority to be revealed. They refused to consider, or even recognize their own inadequacies. Perhaps they had become numb or blind to them. The Lord Jesus Christ called them blind guides. They were blindly leading the people astray.

Light exposes the thoughts and deeds of darkness. One tiny candlelight illumines the darkest darkness. The world hated the Lord Jesus Christ because He accused it of doing evil (John 7:7).

People living in darkness, learn to love the darkness. That is all they know. When the true light of the world comes, they reject it. They avoid the piercing light of exposure and humiliation at all costs.

The Greek word translated exposed is elegcho. It means to scrutinize or examine carefully, bring to light, set forth, to bring someone to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, or convince.

What differentiates children of the King from those who are not? “The difference between the believer and the unbeliever does not lie in the guilt or innocence of either, it lies in the different attitudes they take toward the ‘light.’ The unbeliever shrinks from the light because it exposes his sin; the believer willingly comes to the light so that his real motives may be revealed” (Tenney, EBC).

When the light is turned on in a dark room where cockroaches are present, the roaches scurry into darkness to hide from and avoid the light. The life, words, and actions of the Lord Jesus Christ exposed the evil and mediocrity of people. Their darkened souls were now unmasked. They were threatened. It is very difficult to admit their limitations. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge and accept that others might outshine them.

The fallen world is a very dark place. Darkness is a spiritual reality, a kingdom under the domination of the enemy of our souls. Mediocrity and degenerate wickedness are the two driving forces of darkness.

“The men who followed Him were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same” (Billy Graham).

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