Do you feel intimately connected to Jesus?
Do you feel a passionate love for Jesus?
Or do you feel a distant sense of obligation to acknowledge his divine status and—because he made the rules—follow all his rules?
Learning the difference between a performance-based “love” relationship and a faith-based love relationship directly translates into how we relate to Jesus himself. A performance-based relationship with Jesus inhibits us from being real and authentic. In a faith-based relationship with Jesus, we don’t have to pretend to be something we are not in order to please him. We simply, in faith, receive his constant, unconditional love and, from that vulnerable state of trust and hope, we respond to his instructions and direction with reverent submission.
A faith-based love relationship is what allows us to love and obey Jesus without fear of failure and shame. Deep down we accept the hard truth that Jesus absolutely loves and cherishes us to the very core of our being. We even accept that he loves us enough to sacrifice his own life in exchange for ours.
When we let the unconditional acceptance of Jesus in, the truth of it will tear down our inner walls of defensive self-protection and sprout in us a desire to be open, honest and vulnerable. We actually appreciate that we don’t have to hide and protect ourselves from God’s intimate involvement with our secret interior. We can come to Jesus just as we are and he will heal our wounds and make us whole. When you are hurting and someone comforts you, doesn’t that make you feel really good toward that person? You could eventually feel passionately good about them after enough healing encounters, couldn’t you?
A performance-oriented relationship with Jesus thinks, “if I just fulfill my to-do list, then Jesus will love me and I will deserve his love and get his blessings.” Performance-based thinking also says, “I can not be open and honest with Jesus—or with the community of his followers—about my failures and weaknesses until I have cleaned them up myself. Therefore, I will hide the real ‘me’ and pretend to be the ‘good Christian’ who has it all together.”
A faith-based love relationship believes that, â€œbefore I did anything to deserve it, Jesus loved me.â€ I receive the free gift of complete, unconditional love that Jesus has for me and I submit to accepting his wise and comforting instructions for living my life. I no longer see these instructions as a list of rules to follow in order to be loved. I simply choose to follow Jesus and his comforting instructions everyday because I love him. And as a result of our love, Jesus works his fruits of righteousness into me through my loving and cooperative obedience.
After believing and accepting his unconditional love, everything I do â€œrightâ€ and in union with God is grounds for affection, pleasure and delight, but will never supercede the fact that first, he loves every single one of us completely and the same, in whatever state we are inâ€”struggling or victoriousâ€”and that he is for us.
Â© 2005 Janet L. Smith. All rights reserved. Web site by Garden Ministries.