I used to lead worship about once a month at a church we once attended. Recently, I was looking through the songs I used to play and one called “Undivided Heart” grabbed my attention. Here’s the lyrics from the first verse:
If I’m to be whom You desire
All throughout my life
A vessel unto honor, Lord to Thee
And before Your throne to hear You say
That I have done my part
Lord, I need an undivided heart
These are good lyrics and a good reminder. Paul told the Corinthians to be undivided in their devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:35). That’s something we need to be reminded of all day every day. At least I do. But here’s the rub. When someone steeped in performance-based Christianity (PBC) hears these lyrics, they can quickly turn them into a to-do list. PBCers like to-do lists. PBCers are on the prowl for good to-do lists. I know because I used to be one (a PBCer – not a to-do list).
The PBCer will read “if I’m to be whom you desire….[if] I have done my part…I need an undivided heart” and conclude that God is only pleased with me if I have all of my ducks neatly in a row. They will ask, “how can I do this better?” or “I need to get better at this so God won’t be disappointed in me and my performance.” In PBC it’s all up to me to keep God’s favor by performing better, so if I’m to be whom God desires, I better get busy and get my act together.
Performance-based Christianity is a burdensome and harsh taskmaster that says “do more and do it better” but the gospel simply says “it is finished.” It’s done and I didn’t do it. Even Paul’s command for undivided devotion is gospel-soaked. His intent wasn’t to “lay any restraint upon you..” That kind of freedom only comes from the gospel. Only as I remember who I am in Jesus, am I free to fail in my pursuit of an undivided heart and still be counted as one who has an undivided heart. That’s because Jesus represented me the moment he stepped out of heaven and what I couldn’t do on my own, God did for me (Romans 8:3-4). His righteous requirements have been met for me by my Savior. Relax and enjoy Jesus today!