The Motivation, Condemnation, Rededication Cycle of Performance-Based Christianity

Prepare for the Roller Coaster Ride of Your Life

Do you ever feel like your life as a Christian is like riding on a roller coaster? Does your Christian walk seem to be a series of long, slow climbs to the crest of some pinnacle (usually some kind of “breakthrough” like a physical healing or deliverance from some sinful behaviour) and then a spectacular thrill ride all the way to the bottom where you realise you’ve “lost” your healing or fallen into sin again but (for some strange reason) you have a strong desire to get back on the ride? Do you feel like you want to get off the ride once and for all but you’re afraid you’ll upset the cart and spoil the ride for everyone else if you do?

You are not alone. Look around; there are many people who are either down in the dumps or on some kind of high. Do you think there might be a place for you this mess? Have you done penance for your sinful nature? What works are you doing to advance the Kingdom? Are you tired of feeling guilty? Let me tell you, it’s time to get off the roller coaster and ride the Ferris wheel! From a metaphorical point of view, you only have to get on the Ferris wheel once and you can enjoy a long, steady ride to the top where you will stay for a while and then you’ll slowly glide to the bottom. But you don’t feel sick or guilty at the bottom of this ride. No, here is where you finish feeling fulfilled. Most Christian people want a slow, steady and solid life that ends with them safely delivered into the embrace of a loving and predictable God.

It seems like there is a huge divide in today’s emerging church. This divide is between where many Christians think they should be in their Christian walk and the reality of where they are! They are constantly told that they need to “break the chains” that are holding them back from a true relationship with Jesus Christ. They’re told that they need to “cry out” for mercy! But so many of them forget that Jesus Christ has already given us mercy! Yes, every one of us has some kind of struggle in our lives but there is nothing, I mean NOT ANYTHING that can separate you from the love of Christ apart from a lack of repentance. But repentance isn’t about beating yourself up or trying to “fix” someone else! Repentance is simply recognising and admitting that you are a sinner who is willing to change.

The Bible says that in all these things (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword) we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:36-37) and it also says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) These verses beg for people to understand that it is only by GRACE that we have been set free. There are no verses in the New Testament Bible that say any one of us can DO anything to earn favour with God or get a better placement in Heaven. In fact, Jesus makes all this quite clear in Matthew 7:21-23 where we can read: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” If we Christians have anything to fear…it is that! Should we come to stand before the Judge at the end of our earthly lives and find that He does not even know us that will be the worst that can happen to us.

We know that the only way to get to know Jesus is through study of and meditation on His Word in the Bible. So why do so many Christians get so caught up in thinking that our works (the things we do) are required for God to love us? I think I can help explain how this happens.

It starts with some well-meaning Christian telling you that you must go to church if you want to call yourself a Christian and reap the benefits of being one. The person who tells you this will cite the teachings of seeker-friendly, mega-church pastors who push this idea because they need to fill seats to keep the bills paid. They will also use the misinterpretation of any number of verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of the fellowship of believers but they will be failing to understand that when two or more of you are gathered together in His name, He is there! Fellowship of believers can be 2 or 3 Christians gathered together for a coffee in a local restaurant or a busload of youth heading off to a conference together. Fellowship of believers does not have to be a regularly scheduled meeting of religious folk gathered in a building and doing rituals! However, you grew up hearing that going to Church was a good thing (which it is!) and now you’ve been convinced that you MUST join this particular church. So you do and there you are, a member of the church.

(Coda)

You’ve been motivated…now what? Well, now you must contribute according to the gifts God has given you. The body has many parts…the hands cannot operate without the eyes! The eyes serve the hands and the hands serve the eyes! The problem is, everyone wants to be the eyes and they can all “see” that YOU are supposed to be the hands so you end up being the one to take out the trash and wash the floors. You don’t have skills as a musician or speaker, you aren’t qualified to teach anything and you’d better not be attending church just to get taught something because it’s not all about you after all! Anyways, you do what “they” say and you listen to the testimonies from people who tell of how becoming a Christian has made their lives so much better and how they’ve been blessed with healings, money or things because they have been faithful in giving of their tithes and doing good works. Maybe you go to a “burn party” and you toss all your books and music from “the world” into the fire and you feel like you’ve gained some headway in achieving a status that is favourable in God’s eyes. In the back of your mind you’re thinking about how many hours you worked at your minimum wage job in order to be able to buy those books and CDs and you really miss the music…but you put it out of your mind. You are “in” with the holy people and your life is going to get better! You begin to really get into the worship at the church…the band is really good. Your emotions are stirred and someone speaks a “word of knowledge” over you. YOU are going to be a warrior in God’s army! YOU are going to bring healing to the nations by the power of your testimony! One day, you find yourself standing at the front of the church with your hands raised in the air, totally immersed in the music and hey, that pain in your back (or whatever ailment you had) is not there anymore! Praise GOD! You’ve made it! You are a real Christian! Soon you find yourself up at the front, testifying how God has touched your life and you have become a new person! YOU are one of THEM! The motivation you got when you began coming to this church has worked. You are peaking on God…you might even find yourself falling down when some specially anointed minister slaps you on the forehead…maybe you even find yourself clucking like a chicken or bursting into uncontrollable laughter at seemingly inopportune times! WOW! You are anointed…you can even do the “drunk face” when the Holy Spirit comes upon you!

But then you get home one day and you wonder why these “manifestations” only happen when you’re in the church building or around some of the people. Why can’t you seem to whip yourself into a frenzy at home? It’s so much fun! You may notice that you’re still struggling with that sin you’ve been trying to avoid (the one you got delivered from at church last week) and lo and behold, your back pain (or whatever ailment you have) has returned! And what about those gold teeth and angel feathers? Everybody who got gold teeth lost them and nobody saved any of the angel feathers! And the woman who was doing back arches and other strange contortions has not been seen for a while…her back is sore. And the drug addict who got raised from the dead has gone and overdosed and died. You ask the pastor, “What’s going on, is any of this real” He says you don’t have enough faith…even Jesus couldn’t do miracles in His own hometown because of their lack of faith! CRASH! You’ve been condemned…You’re not good enough…not a great Christian. It’s time for rededication. Better DO some works and some penance…You need to cry out to the Lord for forgiveness…FREEDOM! BREAK THESE CHAINS! Better go to church! Go to the front, fall on your face…or dance! Scream! CRY OUT TO GOD!

(D.S. al Coda) Repeat ad nausium.

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