Do you ever feel like you have to “perform” in the Christian life?

I’ve noticed lately that when I write my personal Scripture reflections, they are often more cautionary than encouraging. (“Be careful about this; don’t do that; watch out over here!”)

Why not more hopeful?

Why do I reflexively try to put in so many caveats and limits to how I’m living, instead of simply digging deeper into how to more fully trust Jesus?

Am I simply trying to manage and limit my expectations in order to avoid disappointment?

Am I zeroing in on a more performance-based understanding because that’s something I can predict and control?

Are you?

When I speak with others, I instinctively want to encourage them to know that it’s okay to fail, to hurt, to not have it all together.  Yet, when it comes to my own life, I am much harder on myself.

How about you?

Maybe what I need the most is simply to let myself off the hook from being perfect all the time — or trying to be.  Maybe God is telling me to stop trying to write and think and even act like a “good Christian,” and let my heart simply rest in being God’s child.

Maybe He’s telling you the same.

Now, sometimes there’s a fear that comes up when we speak of simply resting in Christ.  The fear is that we will become lazy in our walk and personal holiness, that if we don’t feel the need to work hard to measure up to God’s standard, then we won’t even want to try.  However, think about this…

If my walk and my life become lax and less than what God desires for me, then either
A) He WILL still love and accept me just the same because of the work on Christ on my behalf, or
B) He will NOT accept me because I didn’t measure up, which means the whole notion of “grace” is a lie.

The deeper question is not “how am I living,” but rather, “how do I really WANT to live.”

If my deep desires are not to please God and walk in His ways, then my heart has not been truly changed and I am not following out of a regenerated new nature in Christ, but simply out of religious fear.  That means there is no grace for me because I haven’t truly trusted Jesus for salvation and surrendered to Him as Lord.

But, if the cry of my heart truly IS to follow Jesus and please God, then that is an indicator that my heart has been transformed, I am a new creation in Christ, and I am now a child of God and the recipient of undeserved and unlimited grace!  That means that even if I fail at the “Christian life,” I am still loved and embraced and accepted and forgiven in Christ.

And if your heart has been transformed, then so are you.

Grace means that I can stop trying so hard to make God like me, because in Christ, He already does.

Then, the more I realize and rest in that truth, the Gospel also changes my heart and desires so much that living the Christian life is no longer a duty of fear, but a delight of freedom, and that makes all the difference.

How about you?  Do you sometimes struggle with feeling a need to “perform” in the Christian life?  Share in the comments section…