by Burk Parsons
I was asked recently what my favorite sports and hobbies are. My reply was simple: My favorite sports are hunting, fishing, and eating, and similarly, my favorite hobbies are talking about hunting, fishing, and eating. Although my abilities to hunt and fish will take a lifetime to refine, I have already perfected the art of eating. And having always had a keen interest in the social and psychological sciences, I could easily add the sport of people-watching to my list of favorites. I am simply fascinated by people — the way people dress, how people communicate, and what people do.
Several years ago, while patiently sitting in a shopping mall studying those passing by, one young man in particular caught my attention. He was dressed in black from head to toe. His pants were falling down and dragging on the floor, and he was carefully adorned with several types of chains. What caught my attention, however, was not his typical teen-age, “grunge” attire; rather, it was his hair. It seems that in order to make it appear that he did not care about his appearance and his hair, he styled his hair to make it look messy. It was most probable that he used more than a bottle of hair spray and spent far more time in front of a mirror than a man should in order to make it look like he didn’t care about his hair. All this seemed to be one rebellious young man’s attempt to demonstrate to the world that he didn’t care, to show that it’s perfectly acceptable to have a mediocre appearance.
This same attitude pervades our culture. We see it everywhere, within the realms of music and art, architecture, and business. In just about every sphere of life, our culture has become addicted to mediocrity. In fact, in some ways it has become the popular thing to lower our standards of excellence. Arrogant apathy and proud mediocrity have become the hallmarks of our postmodern society. But what is most confounding is how the church has lowered its standards of excellence in order to win the affections of the world. Many churches have dressed themselves in the culture’s attire in order to make themselves appear more attractive to the world. However, in their attempt to win the world’s approval by lowering their standards, many churches have left behind the unchanging standards of the Word of God. If we seek to live with the highest standard of excellence before the face of God, coram Deo, we must remember that He has set the standard, for it is in Him that we live, move, and have our being — for His glory.