The Grammies are the talk of the town. Who did and who didn't win. Who should have and who shouldn't have. For example, who in the world is the girl that beat out Justin Bieber for newcomer of the year? If I've heard that once, I've heard it a thousand times. The awards are based on the consistence performances of 2010 for each category. One thing I've learned, people have strong opinions about their favorite performers and they are mad if they think their guy got shafted.
What a way to live, everything based on your performance. No thanks! You don't have to be up for an Oscar, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, a Dove or a Bevo (had to slip that one in) to find yourself trying to be "Performer of the Year". We try hard to win the approval of our peers, our bosses and our family. Every effort is made to keep it all together, or at least to appear that way, so people will think better of us. Try harder, perform better and we will be more loved and appreciated. What has happened is we have also carried that performance mentality into our relationship with God and it saddens Him greatly. I think I smell a rat in that kind of thinking. Someone who is not committed to our well being has duped us into believing that. You get two guesses and the first one doesn't count. I am going to give you a clue: It is the opposite of the way Jesus operates.
Let's take a quick look at how Jesus dealt with people. We will look at just a few, the most obvious ones and see if there is a pattern. My guess is, YES! Start with the Woman at the Well. Jesus let her know that he knew everything about her, not to embarrass her, but to embrace her. Jesus wanted her to know she mattered, not because of her performance, but in spite of her performance. He loved her as a person, not as a performer. Not only did He know everything about her, but He knew everyone else knew everything about her, they had whispered about her and her performances for years. Where did Jesus meet her. At the well, one of the most visible places of the day and she was a Samaritan on top of that. The "religious" people despised her "kind", but Jesus loved her "kind". No, He did not approve of her behavior, but He loved her where she was and offered freedom. How about the woman caught in adultery. For the "religious" people this was cut and dry, black and white. Adultery equals stones. Jesus openly defends her, not her lifestyle. Once again the focus is on the person, not the performance. Not only does He defend her, but He exposes the faulty thinking of those professional stone throwers. Remember Zachaeus, hated tax collector, Jesus went to his house for dinner. Then the leper, who had to walk around yelling "unclean, unclean". Total outcast, condemned by the "religious" ones. Jesus did the forbidden, He touched him. Legally, that was cause for His own death.
The common thread in all these encounters is these individuals were rejected, despised, condemned and all considered poor performers. Jesus embraced each one of the individuals openly and unashamedly. He always had His focus on the person, never the performance. Let me ask you an honest question. Do you sometimes try to perform for God's approval? We all do, to some degree, for others, but when we approach God with that kind of thinking, we so limit a vital relationship with Him. Why? Because it is void of the freedom to approach Him just as we are. Billy Graham always ended his sermons with an altar call, singing "Just As I Am" because He wanted people to know that Jesus died for their freedom to approach God without first changing. Do you consider yourself a poor performer. Have you failed Him as much as you have served Him. I certainly have. Well, I have good news for you today; You are a perfect candidate for an encounter with Jesus. One that will change you forever. It won't be a one time experience, but with the rising of every sun, He desires to engage you. As a matter of fact, there is nothing else on His agenda for the day. He is passionate about us, in spite of our performance. Pause and let Him know you are ready and eager for the encounter too. JOIN THE JOURNEY!