The problem with performance-based Christianity


By Jay Grant —

Pastor Jay Grant with his wife Nikki

One of the most debilitating spiritual problems is performance-based Christianity, attempting to gain God’s approval by “being good.” And we think God is pleased with us because we’ve been performing well. But if we happen to sin or fail, we quickly plunge into discouragement, convinced we have displeased God and now He is unhappy with us.

We have been programmed by life to feel this way. When we were young we tried to please our parents. Then we tried to please our teachers. Then our coaches, our employers and finally our spouses. This is how it often went. When we did well, we received a ton of affirmation but when we failed we often received disapproval or criticism. Love was often withdrawn by authority figures when we failed. We ended up feeling lousy, beating ourselves up, feeling guilt and shame.

Just to let you know, God is not like us. God never withdraws His love. When we fail, His love is often even more pronounced, meeting our hearts with compassion and grace. This is clearly seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). God knows we want to do right but understands our weakness. God is constantly working in our lives to grow and change us but it is a life-long process. He is merciful, patient and gracious. And His love is set on your life. It does not ever change, no matter what. You can never earn God’s love and you can never lose it. What a relief!

Closeup, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt


  1. Well spoken Jay I have learned this lesson well with my dog Otto. I always want the best for him but he is driven by his nature and I have to take corrective action for his best interest. I have to discipline the one I love. That doesn’t dimenish my love. I think dogs are better at getting that then humans are.

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