Monday, September 22, 2014

On Performance

I've been feeling rather weary lately. This whole college thing is starting to drain me and zap my energy levels and in addition, I have this whole set of mental health issues to keep under control. It's exhausting, so I come home most days and all I want to do is sleep, but I am hindered from napping or even going to bed early by what seems to be endless piles of reading, as well as extracurricular and social activities. All of these things are good and normal. 

But there comes a point when I can't actually handle all of this and I get overwhelmed -- usually around the time I start pressuring myself to do everything and to do it really well. This pressure, of course, comes with the fear of disappointing and failing, which paralyzes me. So I try to keep going, pushing myself to do better and try harder and do more, and I inevitably end up failing because the truth of the matter is I cannot do everything and I definitely cannot do everything well. 

The good news is its not about my performance, its not about how much I do, and its not about how well I do things. 

In Primetime on Friday, we looked at how Jesus redefines our performance in John 13: 36-38 (NIV): 

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

When we talk about Simon Peter, we want to throw him under the bus most of the time. But in this moment, all Peter wants is to follow Jesus all the way. But here's the thing about this moment -- Peter is trying to spotlight his own performance, saying "I will lay down my life..."

Peter's performance is not the point. 

Jesus' crucifixion is his greatest moment of glory. This is the point. Because Jesus sacrificed himself for us, absolutely nothing we can do will earn us favor with God. Peter was trying to prove his love and devotion and possibly that he was the greatest disciple by offering to die for Christ. But its not about him. 

Back in the scripture, Jesus says to Peter "Will you really lay down your life for me? will disown me three times!" Peter tried so hard to earn Jesus' favor and to prove his love, and he failed because he made it about him. 

This same thing happens to me -- I try so hard to do everything and do it all well so as to prove myself, but I fail because I am making it about me. I make it about how Sarah can be glorified and how Sarah can be seen as good. But Jesus' performance on the cross is sufficient for me and therefore, I do not have to rely on my own performance to prove my worth or show I am good enough to be deserving of love. 

Which is good, because I fail and will continue to fail. I will probably always make it about me and my performance. But the cross covers that! 

In church on Sunday, we looked briefly at Hebrews 6:17-20 (NIV): 

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Because of Jesus' performance, we have a stable and secure hope in the work and person of Jesus because God promises that, and God does not lie. Therefore, we are no longer tied to our own performance, but anchored to that of Christ. 

So even though I will continue, like Peter, to perform in order to prove my worth and to make it about me, I no longer have to live in fear of failing and not being enough. 

I have the assurance of salvation regardless. I have hope regardless. I am loved regardless.

I am not my performance. I am free.