1. the state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good; extreme merit; superiority
2. an action, characteristic, feature, etc., in which a person excels
1. the quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine.
We in the western church seem to spend plenty of time talking about excellence.
Especially in regards to worship.
But I reckon that on it's own, excellence is not much use.
These two concepts, excellence and authenticity, are very much like espresso and gently frothed milk,
I.E, absolutely made for each other.
Or if you don't drink coffee, try this comparison, mint sauce and roast lamb. mmm.
Or maybe a better example is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. They couldn't live without each other.
The thing is this. excellence is easily measured. how do you measure authenticity?
But it's authenticity that the church needs most.
authentic love for others
authentic grace in forgiving others
authentic lives that are full of God's life-light, all week long, not just on Sundays
I believe authentic, Godly love in people's lives is the number one thing that attracts people to God.
John 4:23-24 says;
'It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him. God is sheer being itself - Spirit.
Those who worship him must do it of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.'
I still have no idea how to measure authenticity. But that verse of scripture is a pretty good checklist to check yourself against.
But what of excellence?
Imagine you're an architect. You have a genuine relationship with Jesus. You love church, reach out to your neighbors, read the Word. But you are a terrible architect. You are lazy at work, don't get on with your colleagues, are late on every deadline, and when you finally do design something, it's the hideously ugly New Zealand Supreme Court:
Maybe you have an authentic love and relationship with Jesus. But do your friends see that? Does your boss see that? or are you just a frustration? Your lack of excellence has damaged your authenticity.
2 Peter 1.5 says:
'So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given,
complementing your basic faith with
and generous love,
each dimension fitting into and developing the others.
With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.
be excellent. but not for yourself, or for glory, or recognition, or money, or reputation.
Do it out of an authentic love for our God, maker of heaven and earth, creator of all things.
if excellence and authenticity walk hand in hand in your life, you will be living your best possible life, the life God always planned for you to lead.