Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Performance Based Acceptance Synchroblog

I procrastinated until today to write my synchroblog! After all, we only have grace for today, right? ;)

I had a total change in my perception of God in the Spring of 2006, then, after searching for answers, I finally came to understand what Jesus actually did on the Cross. Was I a genuine Christian or not? I cannot honestly say. I can only say that I know now that I believe.

I spent about a year with a very misty understanding of my salvation, my righteousness in Christ, and how God actually viewed me. I understood the Gospel in theory, but I denied it by my actions and constant self-evaluation.

VERY early on as a professing Christian, with a great hunger for God, I began to question my sincerity and my salvation. Immediately I began seeking counsel from books and other Christians to get reassurance that I did not have to do anything but trust in Jesus' finished work. But every time I sought for assurance I usually got the advice that basically said, "Yes it's grace, BUT".

But, but, but. You know works are evidence, don't you? You gotta have works too!

Most Christians always feel the need to weed out the lazy beggars by emphasizing works. Seems like we only mention grace because we have to. I think if it were up to us, the gospel we would present to people would be: "Quit sinning, you lazy bum!"

Everywhere I went, it seemed there was no pure grace. No one could show me pure grace from the Bible. Every piece of advice I got was uncertain. No one ever told me to just trust in Jesus, without adding another sentence to that. I don't give a damn which way you slice it, what I always got was this false teaching called 'balance'. Apparently I just needed a balance. And I was my worst teacher.

This 'balance' idea that taught me to have one foot under law and one foot under grace never made any sense to me. But I figured it was true, because after all, didn't God go through all that trouble of saving me? Now I really need to buckle down and get to work.

This very inconspicuous, good sounding doctrine of 'balance' caused me to go into a world of deep, morbid introspection. I was forced to evaluate my works all the time. I was a double minded person, unstable in all my ways. I wanted to believe, but I couldn't. I tried to have faith, but the 'balance' of performance mixed in with God's grace nullified the faith in my heart. Sure, I understood the Gospel, but did I believe it? Did I really entrust myself to Jesus alone? No! I couldn't! I still had one foot under the law, just in case this grace business went sour and God expected a little tip from me for all his work.

I incessantly evaluated my faith and my performance. And of course I saw no faith in myself because I was still under performance and of course my performance wasn't good enough!

I was a cat chasing my tail.

There was a point in time when I seriously thought I might go insane. I had never before understood how someone's mind could crack, but during all of this introspection, caused by a little 'balance', I was led into a constant evaluation of self. I really thought my mind would soon break. I just didn't understand how anyone could pull this Christian thing off! I couldn't remain faithful in washing my dishes, let alone loving my neighbor as myself! And loving my enemy? I couldn't even stop being irritable with my own mother!

Something wasn't right. I was missing something. But what?

I would toss and turn all night long, grinding my teeth, wondering whether or not God really accepted me; wondering whether or not I had what it took to make it to the finish line on this "narrow way" that felt a lot more like a tight rope.

My Christianity was so uncertain. It was grace, but it wasn't. It was uncondtional love, but it was conditional. It was law, but it was also grace. It was merited favor, but it was unmerited favor.

Then one day I read the words from Jesus that said, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a child will not enter it." I had read this verse before, but this time something stirred in my heart.

It was faith.

To sum it up, I said in my heart, "If I go to hell trusting in Jesus' Gospel alone, then I go to hell." And I dared to believe Jesus loved me. I finally got crazy enough to do it! I gave up evaluating myself so that I could evaluate Jesus.

Not that I am perfect in this, but I make every effort to enter that rest.

There really is no secret, I don't think. You never come to a point when you understand every verse in the Bible and then believe the Gospel. I had to give up trying to understand every Scripture before I could understand it. The Scripture says, "When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed."

You must first turn to the Lord in order for the veil to be removed. He wants you to be crazy enough to actually believe him.

"Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed."


Jamie said...



Bino M. said...

Mathew, great post! Thanks!

Matthew Campbell said...

Glad ya'll liked it. :)

Jamie said...

Ummmm, there is the leetle matter of the BAD WORD!!


Love you.

Hip Mama Cat

Joel B. said...

Matthew... hehehe I gotta admit that I procrastinated with mine too. :) I had all the ideas in my mind, but then I kept putting it off and ended up going in sort of a different direction than I intended. That's what school was like for me too, by the way. I'd wait till the last minute to write papers. And I always got A's and B's! I 'performed' well under pressure... LOL.

"Yes it's grace, BUT." Yep yep yep, that seems to be the story in the church today, wherever grace is taught. It's generally got conditions attached to it. And so that whole "balance" thing is prevalent.

Like you say, it leads to a life of a cat chasing its tail, and to people seriously thinking they're insane or are heading there. That is SO SAD... that in God's church, which is supposedly built upon love, grace and freedom, so many people are living with church-induced schizophrenia, depression, sadness, pain, etc, etc.

Anyway, it's been great getting to know you and the others over the past year or two, as we've shared the life of grace with each other! It's truly been a huge part of my growing in grace and freedom.

Matthew Campbell said...

I had no choice, Jamie! Damn was the only word that accurately conveyed the emotion I felt when I was writing it. lol :)

I think I'm the same way, Joel. I waited until the last minute with a recent essay I wrote in Adult Ed. My teacher said it was excellent. =D

But you're right...It is sad. It makes me angry when I think about it...

"Balance" is my most hated phrase in the Christianese language. It makes absolutely NO sense. How do you 'balance' two totally contrary Covenants? You CAN NOT pour new wine into old wineskins or they will BOTH be destroyed.

As I said before, balance is this: "I'm not saying you work FOR your salvation - but you sure as hell better earn it!"

I think we typically preach an Old Covenant 2.0 rather than an entirely New Covenant in Christ.

It is either law or grace. There is no 'balance'.

Leonard said...

Matt, thanks for sharing, I always thought that balance was code for compromise.

Steve Sileo said...

The wrestling match was worth it. You're on the money!

Check out Reality Church's video link about what you wrote. This was a talk on Easter Sunday. From 25 minutes to about 32 minutes in the video you'll see what I mean.


lydia joy said...

Matt!! You rocked this post out good!! I am thinking it's like a good portion of a chapter of a book I want to read!!!!

Matthew Campbell said...

Thanks so much, Lydia. :) You're too good to me!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

because I replied to Facebook first I completely missed the point of you writing grace/works balance....and thought you meant balance of teaching, which may or may not be the same.

i like when Juan carlos ortiz said "When you get to heaven they're gonna check your pulse."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this I feel like I am in the position you are at now....I need to go against what minds says ( it does not seem right) and jump in!

Anonymous said...

^edit ,I meant I feel like I am in the position you -were- at.