There exists within some circles of Christianity a belief that states you do not need to strive, there’s no need to perform, in the Kingdom. Within my own study and time spent with Holy Spirit, I have come to a conclusion on this matter.
First and foremost, I believe a definition of terms is in order. I believe when the words “striving” and “performing” are used, the implication is that the person is striving or performing for love and acceptance. To this I would agree that striving and performing is unnecessary. God’s love is unconditional. If we had to work for it, Jesus never would have died on the cross while we were yet sinners.
Having been adopted into the Royal family now, however, there is a certain familial obligation to fulfill certain duties. For how is a Kingdom to function if its people do not work and work together?
The NT is replete with Scriptures concerning obedience and stewardship. For example, 2 Peter 1.5-10 says,
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful [“or unproductive,” in the NIV] in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”
Tell me that doesn’t conjure up images of striving in your mind. But here is where our definition of terms is needed.
The striving and diligence here is one that comes from a heart that already knows it’s position with God. It comes from one that knows his or her identity in Christ. They are not striving to achieve that position, for that position was already obtained through Christ.
What I want to propose is that performance, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. And I wish to illustrate this with an analogy. Imagine there are two dancers, giving a performance before an audience. They are more or less equal in every way. The only difference is their hearts.
One’s heart is performing out of a desire to gain confirmation from the audience of who she is (a dancer). She is hoping that through her performance she will please the audience and the audience will bestow upon her the identity of a dancer. Her actions are born out of a desire to receive.
The other’s heart is performing from the understanding that she is a dancer. She is performing for the audience out of her joy for dancing! She simply wants to show the audience her love of being a dancer, and through her expression, bring joy to the audience. Her actions are born out of a desire to give and bless.
As Christians, our identity has already been confirmed through Christ. We no longer need a confirmation, and therefore no longer need to perform to receive that confirmation. Our identity being solidified, we can now perform to give and bless our audience. Our audience of One.
So let us make every effort. Let us strive. Let us perform. But let us do it from a heart that’s been undone by the love of our Father, and a desire to put our feelings of love to action.