Colossians 3:1-3 (AMP)
Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.
In this passage, Paul is encouraging the disciples not to get caught up in the legalism that is toxically infecting what was intended to be a pure relational spirituality. The disciples are attached to rules and regulations that make them performance-focused. As a result, they forget about the sheer joy in having a relationship with Jesus. Christ died to free us from living lives distant from Him, so that in turn we might together be free to enjoy God in fellowship forever. He’s given us a performance-free journey, so why do we still find ourselves fighting to perform for Him and others?
It’s a relief knowing that God doesn’t expect us to perform for Him. I must admit that, even with the gifts He’s given me, I could never perform well enough to earn the enormity of God’s grace. Resist the temptation to focus on performance-based spirituality. You can never fully live up to it. No one can, and it becomes a legalistic dread. Jesus ceases to be a friend, and is instead seen as an inspection agent who is going around trying to point out the places where you have glaring contradictions. It’s like you’re living every day as if you’re in a courtroom and God is the judge. It’s tiring.
Get out of the courtroom. You don’t need to perform for God—or anyone else for that matter.
Do you want to know why? You are living hidden in Christ. He is within you. He is already doing the inside work on you. You may be feeling unworthy because of the natural contradictions of human performance. So, you try to improve. But everything God is doing in you is not always revealed; it’s concealed within you. Call it a private transformation, an inner alteration, or a transformation of mind. Whatever you want to call it, you need to understand that your outside might look like the construction project is over, but God is still doing rehab on the inside. Your inner self is being renewed day by day, no matter how great the outside looks.
Jesus says that the kingdom of God is within you, and the branch is only strong because it’s connected to the vine. If you believe that, then you must also understand that you don’t go walking around measuring and evaluating the strength of the branch by the branch itself. You can’t always see what makes the branch so strong. In other words, don’t look at everyone’s outward appearance and measure the strength of their spirituality. Everybody who is spiritually strong doesn’t always look like it, dress like it, or hang out like it.
Live freely in the strength and love of God, and performance won’t matter to you. The moment you decide to have a relationship with Him, nothing else matters. You don’t need to be stronger—you’re already mighty in the Lord.
You see, your performance changes when you have a relationship with God and you affirm what you already are, rather than what you hope to be. If you hope to be loved, then you’ll need affection and attachment from someone in order to fulfill that need. But if you already know that you’re loved by God, then you don’t need those false feelings of attachment.
Stop performing for other people. Leave the courtroom. God already went on trial for you. He was examined about your performance and the sentence was death, but He took it for you and set you free. His admonishment to you is that you go outside the courtroom and imitate His life and live redeemed. Leaving the courtroom means you are then free to only perform for one, and you already know that God sees you as perfect righteousness.
It doesn’t matter how other people think God needs to bless you. You’re a privately-owned corporation—it’s God’s business.