Performance. Competition. Execution. In the western culture, we are constantly being judged. Schooling requires constant testing and grading. Work requires specific performance standards be met. Competition is an integral part of sports, whether attempting to best one’s own best or besting the other team. It is impossible to escape the need to measure up.
God’s Love Not Based on Performance
This need to perform is so much a part of our culture and DNA, it’s hard not to think we need to earn God’s love. Yet this is one place where performance has no place. God’s love for everyone one of us has nothing to do with what we do, but who we are. There is no standard we have to meet to receive God’s love. Jesus didn’t pick and choose whom He died for. He came to pay the price of sin (death) for every one of us.
In our performance driven culture this can be a truth that is hard to accept. Yet there is tremendous freedom in accepting the truth that we cannot earn the love God freely gives. This truth provides a place of rest and refreshing. It also gives us a different identity. The world would have us believe who we are revolves around what we do. This is the reason we celebrate sports figures, movie stars, and the rich and famous. They have all performed well in one-way or another. In God’s eyes, however, each one of us is a superstar. God celebrates the lowliest and the famed equally.
Our Love For God
On the flip side, our love for God should be equally void of performance stipulations. Sometimes it is easy to love God when things are going our way. And far more difficult when we suffer disappointment, pain, and anger when our hopes and prayers are not met. A child is not cured of cancer. Financial troubles occur after a job loss. A spouse’s affair leads to an unwanted divorce. The list is endless.
In these circumstances, we need to guard against thinking our love for God is somehow related to how well He performs the things we want. God shows us the way to love Him by loving us for who we are, not what we do. He invites us to love Him for who He is and not what He does. And just as a burden is lifted when we receive God’s love, so a burden can also be lifted when we love God in spit of circumstances, not because of them.