It is no secret, the evangelical Christian subculture tends toward less-than-excellence in mimicking the art, music, movies, literature, and fashion of popular culture at large. It’s a shame, too. You’ve probably seen a Christian movie, read Christian novels, heard the four-chord anthem of Christian music, or been irritated by a Christian T-shirt that is supposed to convert you upon reading the not-so-clever wordplay. Of course, there are exceptions to the cheapness of Christendom’s attempt at cool. The point of this post, however, is not to rant. The point that I want to persuade you of is the vast grounds that Christians have to be the best creators and appreciators of excellence.
Our God created the universe, inspired the writing of beautiful poetry, and disclosed himself to us in deep and profound theology. Nothing that God created or inspired is less than excellent. True, sin has distorted that excellence. Excellent beer gets men drunk. Sex escapes the marriage covenant. Music is made to worship the devil. These are indeed distortions of what was created excellent. So is all beer, sex, and music sin because it may get abused? Of course not. If the trajectory of the gospel is to unite all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10), then all things must be redeemed and restored to its original excellence. Christians participate in the mission of the gospel when they heed the apostle Paul’s word to Timothy, “All things created by God are good and nothing is to be rejected if it received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4). Christians, for the sake of the gospel, must be lovers of excellent things.
Here are three common pitfalls of Christians in regard to excellent things:
Many Christians miss out on something truly excellent for fear of appearing as though they approve of something wrong. It is true, there are times when this is wise. However, we tend to pull the “don’t cause a brother to stumble” card a bit too often and prematurely.
Too many Christians have been so severely sheltered that they, in fact, have zero aptitude for knowing what is and what isn’t excellent.
Some Christians are simply unaware of the freedom we have in Christ. They continue to regard meat sacrificed to idols as defiled. These brothers must be lovingly taught and not pushed into something that their consciences regard as bad.
All of this being said, excellence in God’s creation is subservient to God. God created excellent things to serve three purposes:
1) Our enjoyment
2) Thanksgiving to God
3) Pointing to the far more excellent reality that awaits us in Christ Jesus, when all things are restored, and we are entirely satisfied in him.