Since When is “Good” Bad?

2015_WBB_Champsgolden stateRecently, a Boston Globe columnist; Dan Shaughnessy, wrote that the dominance of the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team was bad for the sport! As of the writing of this post, it is the day after they soundly defeated Texas to get into the final four of the NCAA tournament for the ninth year in a row! They are two victories away from their fourth national championship in a row and their record 11th!  This particular team has won over 70 games in a row and an edition of the team had a streak of 90 games without a loss some years ago! Talk about good; these young ladies and the coaches of this team are not just “good,” they are excellent!

And in the course of human history, excellence has always been a problem! A prime example was what happened to Jesus! According to the biblical text, Jesus was not crucified alone! There were two criminal crucified along with him! On that day, that society crucified the very best and the very worst! People don’t seem to have a problem with you if you are just average, mediocre, or ordinary. It’s when you are either very bad or very good that you prick the consciousness of the culture! I can understand the concern for the very bad, but when the very good suffers the same fate as the very bad, that does not speak well at all!

So, what’s the problem with the very good? I would like to suggest that the root of the problem is the fact that sin (Yes! I know it’s an old fashion word and even most church people don’t believe in “sin” anymore. But, nevertheless, the Word of God is true!) has corrupted and twisted the minds of men. It’s evident in our public education system: When I was in school, every student strived for good grades and excellence, now our children are systematically being conditioned to settle for being average because being too good and making too good grades will injure the self-esteem of their under-performing classmates! When I was in school, when we had competition, there were only three (3) medals or ribbons given: First place, second place, and third place! Now, just so nobody will “feel bad,” every person is given a medal or a ribbon for just participating!

We have a problem with the very good and the concept of excellence because, for the most part, instead of trying to improve to reach the standards, most people today want to lower the standards so that everybody wins! That is why there is criticism of the University of Connecticut’s women basketball team! That is why the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry are criticized: Their excellence and success shows up the failures of others!  I remember once when my son came home from school complaining about the fact that he had failed a test! He said the test was too hard and that it wasn’t a fair test! I asked him if any of his classmates passed the test. He said that some of them did. I told him, that if had been an unfair or too hard of a test, then none of the students would have passed. But the fact that some of them passed, meant that all of them could have passed!

Instead of criticizing the UConn women’s basketball program and the Golden State Warriors, we should be taking lessons from them! They should be upheld as sources of inspiration and hope, because if they can do it; that means it can be done by others! And if others aren’t doing it, that’s not the fault of those who are doing it! Leave the girls alone! Leave Steph alone! They are not bad for the sport! They are not bad at all! They are good for the sport and they are good for life! They are inspirations and shining stars to those who are yet wallowing and floundering in the wilderness of mediocrity!

Happiness or Holiness?

Holiness signI have a preacher-friend who sends me and several other preacher-pastors words of encouragement every Sunday morning. This past Sunday, he sent this message: “If you want to be popular, preach happiness; if you want to be unpopular, preach holiness.” As I read his message, I thought of the seriousness of the subject matter. Indeed, we live in a time wherein the most popular preachers and preaching advocate man’s happiness as the ultimate spiritual goal. But what does the Bible say about the subjects of happiness and holiness?

I must admit that I didn’t do an intensive study on the subjects before I wrote this post, but from what I have read, it would seem that the most important theme in the Bible is not happiness, but rather holiness! Just for the sake of clarity, we’re not using the term “holiness” just in the context of perfection or being without sin, but also in the context of being separate and set apart. God calls his people to be “in the world” but not “of the world!” There ought to be an undeniable difference between the world and the people of God. God has a standard of conduct that has been revealed in the Scriptures. The fact that we might not agree with those standards does not give us the right to change them.

From what I am hearing, it seems that the main pursuit of the world is happiness! All common sense and oftentimes human decency is being sacrificed upon the altar of human happiness! Today people are calling “right” what God has labelled as wrong simply because they want to be happy in their wrong-doing! So instead of allowing God to change them so that they might be holy, they seek to change God so that they might be happy! In many cases, instead of attempting to rise to God’s standards, men seek to lower God to their own standards.

They seem to be diametrically opposing standards at first, but when you really think about it, true happiness can only be found in true holiness! The happiness the world advocates is seasonal, temporary and conditional. But real happiness; the real joy that comes only from God, comes from adhering to and being obedient to God’s standards of holiness! When we are being and doing what God wants us to be and do; it is only then that we find real happiness! The happiness that the world offers apart from obedience to God’s standard of holiness is not really happiness at all. Happiness or holiness? You really don’t have to make a choice between the two because one leads to the other! It’s just a matter of getting them in the right order!