Why Performance-Based Religion Fails People
My Monday morning drive found me playing Today’s Christian Hits on my Google Play Music account, streamed through my cars Bluetooth. There are just a few songs on there I truly like, the rest are catchy tunes and filler sounds. But this morning one of those ‘catchy tunes’ type of songs I’m sure to have heard dozens of times caught my attention, called The God I Know by Love & The Outcome.
The first verse lyrics are what matters to the inspiration of this article, and coincides with a message someone tagged me in on Facebook, which I’ll share later.
What to do, what to say
What to wear on a Sunday
Black and white, wrong or right, never grey
Well, I’d never make it
I’d never be good enough (oh-oh-oh)
Check out the video version of this article here.
I’d never be good enough
This is the great failure of performance-based Religion! You’ll never be good enough. Amazingly, our God and savior Jesus Christ knew we would never attain perfection. He knew even after our conversion we would sin, fall to temptation, make mistakes. Yet, in all that knowledge, he made a way to mitigate the penalty for our failures.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” – 1 John 2:1, KJV
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with striving for perfection – yet I fear it is too easy to seek it, attain some semblance and then condemn by deed or behavior those who haven’t. Therein, the religion has failed people because rather than focusing on the God who KNEW they would fail and finding solutions, they focus on making sure other people don’t find out about their failures and find ways to hide and shelter the problem.
Think of the children we raise – as they begin to crawl and explore their environments they are somehow naturally attracted to the wall power plugs. And as they reach for them with little stubby fingers we yell NO! and create a startling reaction in the child. We say oh baby don’t touch that it will hurt you! And we continue to teach our children this for the coming years.
And then what do we do?
Why – as our children’s advocate, we rush to the store, we buy childproof (dad proof) plug covers and go around our home until we are sure not a single location could electrocute our little cutey – because we KNOW they are going to try again. Aren’t you glad God knows and will continue to make a way for you? That he hasn’t shamed you at each failure but builds a bridge back to his fellowship?
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7, KJV
The breakdown of the failure of Performance-Based Religion
In my totalitarian background, the wall plug cover principle was never discovered. Rather, to set the stage briefly, all privileges of being used in the Church were based on your exterior or known performance. How did you line up…
For example, all young people, 12 and up, never married, never had children had assigned seating in Church. They always had reserved pews in the very front and center of the Church, and genders were separated. Boys on one side, girls on the other. For a young child growing up, the great and exciting allure was getting to sit with the big kids! Consequently, you always knew when someone had one of those wall plug events because at the next service they would be sitting with their parents looking downcast.
You really knew someone sinned bad (watched a movie or something) when at the next service, they weren’t in the choir singing but were the only young boy or girl in their assigned seating section. (This would be a good time to read my article on Public Shaming or Are Leaders Requiring Too Much)
You see the problem here? Your VALUE or USE to God is based on whether or not you attain the perfection set forth by an imperfect man, and if you don’t line up, its spread across the winds like the Scarlet Letter.
Let me end this with the Facebook post I was tagged in
The problem with your old church was that they refused the scriptures.
I These 5:12. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you,”
Did they know you?
My answer was they knew what they wanted me to be, but they didn’t KNOW me the way God knows each of us. God knows us enough not to set up systems of shame and regret – rather God is a bridge builder, and advocate, a supporter, a booster, a champion of humanity. And thank God Almighty – he did not set up a performance-based religion – the only man has done that.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” – Titus 3:5, KJV
God Bless – and go knowing that God Knows, God Cares and God has made a way for YOU!
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