Summary: How do we rise above simply being an average Christian?
During the four years that I was in Bible College I had several opportunities to have Dr. Bill Burbury as my Professor, and in some of his classes Dr. Burbury offered what he called “Mark by Contract.” When you went to your first class Dr. Burbury would give you a list of requirements for the course. If you wanted to pass the course then you did certain things and you would be guaranteed to make a certain mark. And if all you wanted to do was to pass the course then you could plan your semester from there and at the end of the semester you would have a “D”. You would have passed the course, just. Of course if you were planning on graduating with a degree then that was pretty much worthless because in order to get your diploma you were required to have at least a “C” average.
So if you wanted to do more then simply pass the class then you started adding more requirement. If you wanted a C then you did all that was required of you to get a D and you added some more work and if you did all those things then you got a C. If you were even more industrious then you could add to the C requirements and get a B and add to the B requirements and get an A.
You understand the concept of “Mark by Contract” now? And so during the first week of each term each student was able to choose the mark which they wanted to earn. Most of those students choice an A or a B, however by term end many had only done the work required for a D or a C. Interestingly enough most students marks didn’t change, there wasn’t a dramatic change in mark percentages. The A students continued to be A students, the B students B students. Etc, etc. Nothing really dramatic happened. In the vast majority of cases nobody took the opportunity to move up to the next level. I will confess that I remanded a B student. My mark really didn’t change, I did enough work to get the mark I had always gotten and that was it.
Dr. Burbury once confronted me as my faculty advisor and asked me why I was content with a B or a 3.0 average when I was capable of A of 4.0 work. You know I thought about if for a minute or so and then I answered, (at this point Deborah please stop paying attention) and I said, “You know Dr. Burbury, As and 4s are sharp and harsh while Bs and 3s are soft and rounded.” Bill just shook his head. You see often what we achieve in life is determined not nearly as much by our smarts as it is by as dedication and devotion.
Whatever the advantages or disadvantages of the Contract method of marking were the main thing is you always knew what was expected of you. When you started the class you could ask “What do I have to do to pass this course or ace this course” and you would receive an answer.
We are all born with a desire to be at one with our Creator, our God and we try throughout our lives to come to the place that we are supposed to be at. And while we may never actually verbalize the question in our hearts we are all asking the same question as the lawyer asked Jesus in Luke 10:25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?” How do I get to heaven?
The question is found in the book of Luke, which is the 3rd book in the New Testament. The Author of course is Luke, some of these are just too easy. Luke was probably a gentile Doctor who also wrote the book of Acts.
The book was written somewhere between AD 59 -63 and was actually written to a man named Theophilus, who was likely either a new believer or someone seeking to know more about Christ. Interesting name Theophilus, it was my great grandfather’s name but more then that in the Greek it meant Lover of God. And the reason for the book, to explain to readers that God’s love was meant for the entire world.
And so just as students would come to Dr. Burbury and say “what do I have to do to pass this course?” this lawyer comes to Jesus and says “what do I have to do to have eternal life?” Christianity is very much a contract class, where the requirements are spelled out for us.
Have you ever worked for someone who had unverbalized expectations of what they expected of you? They knew what they expected but they had never actually conveyed it to you, until they asked why you hadn’t done what they thought you should have done but had never actually mentioned that they wanted you to do it. Maybe it wasn’t a employer, maybe it was a spouse or a child or a friend. That happens at times, people assume that we should know certain things.