This past week I took time to do something different…something I should do more often. I surrounded myself with elements of excellence. It was a wide range of media things, from the boys choir of The King’s College in Cambridge, England, to a CD by Andrea Bocelli, to old TV footage of jazz musician Dave Brubeck (who became a Christian late in his life) and his quartet playing his iconic “Take Five.” A wide variety linked by a common thread…excellence!
An Island of Excellence in the Sea of Mediocracy
Do you ever feel like I do, that we are swimming in a sea of mediocracy? Sadly, much of our Christian media is bogged down in the average. Maybe we feel the press of the schedule, having to crank out program after program. Or, we feel we don’t have the resources to allow our offerings to rise to the level of excellence. By the way, I sometimes fall prey to that same mentality.
That’s why I took a bit of time to enjoy some excellent efforts by these artists and production specialists. I will watch a television drama to see excellent actors take outstanding writing and bring it to life. I’ll listen to a great singer like Andrea Bocelli, listening to not only his excellent vocal production and interpretation, but also to the orchestral arrangements and quality recording techniques.
And whether a recent video of a boys choir or a more than 50 year old black and white video of top jazz musicians, I can appreciate the effort it takes to produce something of excellence.
Why do this? Why spend the time that could be used for something else?
First, because it helps me reestablish a high standard for our service to the Lord Jesus. As Oswald Chambers put it, we give our utmost for His highest. But if I am not careful, my reference point of “excellence” gets lowered, watered down.
Second, scripture implores us to do just what I have done. Listen to Paul’s words to the Philippian believers:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable,
and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Finally, excellence is a response of the heart for all that our Lord Jesus has done for us. At church, we recently sang the classic Isaac Watts hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” After taking us through the agony of Christ’s death on the cross, Watts concludes with these powerful and instructive words.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
How can I aim at less than excellent work if I am to represent our excellent Christ to a lost world?