Over these years of 721 Ministries, I have witnessed men who simply cannot feel good about themselves unless they are meeting or exceeding the success of other men. I have witnessed women who are still performing for their father’s approval – and more than once their father has been dead, or out of their lives, for years.
Even more disturbing is how performance pervades our relationships with Jesus. Performance is about points, as in accumulating enough points to earn the rewards we deserve.
If I manage to pull off several days of really good behavior, I expect to be patted on the back, and to be treated appropriately by my wife. And if I am not treated as I now of course deserve, I stand at the ready to pull out the evidence file, and remind Dina of all the points I have earned.
I do it, you do it, we all do it.
But not God.
He is not keeping score. When you are his child, he loves you and adores you apart from your performance. And for a child of God, performance is replaced with obedience, because performance is fear-based. Obedience is love-based.
Obedience, even in human relationships, is ideally compelled by love. As a little fellow, I obeyed my parents out of love. As a teenager not so much. But as I grew older, I returned to obedience out of love and respect for them. I was simply compelled by their love for me.
And my life with God the Father mirrors this closely.
God was just “God” to me as a young boy. I obeyed out of some love, I guess. But as a teenager and onward I obeyed – if I ever did actually obey – out of fear. Even after I was born again it took a while for the love of Jesus to compel my obedience.
But now I seek to obey because I want to please my Heavenly Father. Don’t miss that: to please, not to perform.
Next week I will explore the three things that compel my obedience:
But for today I ask you to examine your personal motivations for how and why you act and behave the way you do. Do you have an audience of only One? Or are you trying to keep multiple plates spinning in the air, so as to accumulate approval points from your spouse, your peers, and even your God?
One is encouraging; the other is exhausting.