Archive for July, 2012
This tweet from Elyse Fitzpatrick (@elysefitz) grabbed my attention. She said,
I’m a deeply flawed sinner saved by grace and faith alone. And I want to be profitable to him…but that’s not the focus of my life. He is.
We get into trouble when the focus of our life becomes anything other than Jesus. It’s so easy to let our performance and sanctification become our focus instead of resting in his finished work for us. We want to serve him and be profitable to him, but we are going to fail and sometimes we fail miserably. To be gospel-centered means that my sanctification and performance are no longer the focus of my life. Jesus is. That’s a huge difference to embrace for someone who’s been steeped in the cauldron of performancism for years. The Christian life isn’t about the Christian. It’s about the Christ.
Pride is at the root of performance Christianity. Pride drives performancism. It puts me at the center of my life and my identity gets wrapped up in my performance. My sanctification takes center stage in performancism and I start to think that my sanctification is the focus of the Christian life. In performancism, I find my identity and worth in myself and how I’m doing at any given moment, instead of in God. In performance Christianity, my sanctification is at the center of my Christian experience.
Building my identity and sense of worth on my performance and sanctification instead of on Jesus and his grace, is idolatry. It’s putting something other than Jesus at the center of my life and finding my identity there. It’s allowing my performance to measure me instead of resting in the finished work of Jesus in my place. It’s turning John the Baptist’s words on their head and insisting instead that “I must increase” (John 3:30). Performancism is prideful self-idolatry.
Tullian Tchividjian continues to bless me with his writings and preaching. One of his latest posts appears on the Christianity Today web site and is entitled, Blessed Self-Forgetfulness. In this piece, he fleshes out our bent toward thinking that the Christian life is about the Christian and his/her sanctification. Here’s what he said,
The way many of us think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it’s downright narcissistic. We think about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time brooding over our failures and reflecting on our successes. We seem to believe that the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian.
Reflecting this common assumption, someone who was frustrated with something I had written said to me not long ago, “Don’t you know that the focus of the New Testament is the personal holiness of the Christian?”
What? Seriously? To keep calm, I replayed Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Stetzer has posted an excellent piece dealing with the Clergy/Laity distinction in the church, entitled Laypeople and the Mission of God, part 1 — Killing the Clergy-Laity Caste System. It reflects my own views probably better than I could state it. Take a look and see what you think… He said,
“Laypeople” is a common word we use around churches but I don’t like it. The word actually can be applied to any non-professional population as it relates to any profession (doctors, lawyers, etc.). But most often it is applied to church, including its primary definition. Today I begin a blog series laypeople and the mission of God. I hope at the end of the series you will see and do things differently for His mission.
The image that such terminology creates is of two classes of people inside the church. The first class (emphasis on “first”) is the professional clergy, referred to as “ministers” by some churches. The second class (I meant to say that) is the laypeople. I also see something that is not only unbiblical but I believe it sabotages the Read the rest of this entry »
This quote from Michael Horton surfaced on my Twitter feed yesterday. It rocked my thinking. He said,
If the focus of our testimony is our changed life, we as well as our hearers are bound to be disappointed.
Somehow we’ve come to think that the Christian life is all about the Christian. We’ve somehow concluded that this whole thing is about us, our performance, and how we’re doing. We’ve self-centralized the message of the gospel to be about us and our performance.
That used to be my way of thinking. My assurance was tied to how I was doing at any given moment. If my assurance lacked, the counsel I received from others amounted to a to-do list. Questions like, “What are you reading?” “Who are you meeting with?” and “Are you practicing hospitality?” were commonplace. In other words, you Read the rest of this entry »