I had a meal with a young man some time ago.
He opened up to me that he has been trying to measure up to his parents expectations but he just couldn’t. Unfortunately, this has been carried over to his relationship with Jesus. He told me that growing up, when he doesn’t make it to a particular grade, his father gets upset. Worse, he gets compared with his siblings.
This is not an isolated situation.
Having been a kids pastor for 11 years before, I have heard kids being told that if they don’t make it to second honor, they will not go to Hong Kong Disneyland. Now, that’s pressure. The whole family vacation was placed on the shoulders of that particular 3rd grade student.
This is why the gospel is so freeing.
The redemption story is indeed redeeming.
Jesus destroys any performance orientation embedded in our psyche.
He accomplished what we couldn’t.
He performed what we were unable to.
He finished what we couldn’t even sustain.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
If we are unable to wrap our brains around this, we will end up trying to please our Heavenly Father to gain His favor.
Remember, if you are a child of God, you don’t have to try to gain His favor. You ALREADY have His favor through Christ.
Jesus loves you the way you are.
But He loves you too much to let you remain the way you are.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7
I worked as a guidance counselor in a school for several years.
One morning, a young girl in grade 3 came to my office crying. Immediately I asked her what was wrong so I could bring comfort.
She told me that she was just told by her parents that if she didn’t get at least second honor, they would not go to their family trip to Hong Kong.
Wow. The pressure of your family vacation not pushing through because of you.
My heart went out to her and prayed for her.
I thought about many kids and adults alike who bring this
performance orientation into their relationship with Jesus.
“If you don’t do this, if you can’t make this, if you can’t perform well then you’ll miss out of My blessing.”
How many people think this way today?
I obviously don’t mean disobedience and rebellion against God. But what I’m saying is that many think that after giving their life to Christ, they need to continue to earn God’s favor.
We already have His favor through Christ.
Read what Tulian Tchivijian says in his book Jesus Plus Nothing = Everything.
The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.