We all desire the good life – a life of security, provision, abundance, congruence, and quality relationships. The seduction of performance connects the quality of my doing to the attainment of the good life. It converts me from a human being to a human doing. This is particularly relevant when many of us undergo job related performance appraisals.
If the good life were not worth attaining this seduction would be powerless. Satan has created an illusion that seeks to control the attainment of the good life through an appraisal of my performance (I am not implying that appraisals are satanic, but merely connecting the illusion of connection between attainment and the good life) – a comparison to others who have seemingly attained it and a determination of whether I am as deserving. Whether I attain this standard or not, there is always another level of attainment to pursue that I am convinced will secure the good life for me even further. There is never a stopping. To stop is to concede and admit to a lack of ambition and risk the label of “underperformer”.
If Satan has created this illusion away from the truth, then what is the truth? The truth is that the good life is not designed to be attained. It has already been purchased and offered, free of charge, via the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Those who accept this gift experience an opportunity to be free of the illusion. They are in right standing (righteous according to the passage above) with the Creator of all things. The good life is theirs already.
Does this mean that work stops? Indeed not! This means that work, which was the instrument of a slavery to performance, becomes a purposeful act of gratitude and submission – a tool that God uses to uncover the full extent of the good life. This is akin to lifting clay tiles that cover a golden floor. Each tile represents work and the golden floor below, the good life. The effort expended in lifting leaves an internal expression that is indelibly marked on my soul, resulting in the refinement of my character – an act that will itself be rewarded. I therefore have to strive in what God has given me to do – not that I will be rewarded in an earthly way but so that I will grow in faith and character.
The seduction of performance says, “only attainment can secure the good life.” Grace says, “the good life has already been attained on my behalf.” Choose grace.