I used to be a card-carrying member of "Performance Driven Christianity." Busy, busy, busy! I was purpose driven long before Rick Warren turned the phrase into a church cult. I was just like frantic Martha scurrying around the kingdom doing this and doing that. And just like Martha, Jesus was largely neglected on the sidelines of my life as I busily went about serving Him. Ministry was the thing. Leadership was the thing. Finding your place In the body was the thing. Discovering your spiritual gifts was the thing. Being involved was the thing. Serving was the thing. Being supposedly about my Father’s business was the thing. But most of it was really “my thing” In His name.
I look back 35 years ago to a specific elder’s meeting that could have set the church I was a part of on a whole new course. It could have been a dynamic turning point but, alas, it was not to be. The meeting took place in a church that prided itself on being the “busiest little church in the world”. It had a whole lot of stuff going on. But the subtle dynamics of spiritual burn-out was already at work and I was just beginning to see the handwriting on the wall. The problem was, I just hadn’t experienced enough trips around the church block to really grasp the implications of what I was only then beginning to discern. Paradigm shifts are often like that. We get it when we get it. During that meeting about the usual church busyness, I was thinking to myself out loud about the story of “Martha & Mary” when I said, “I wonder what would happen if the lesson behind that story became the guiding force behind all of our actions from this point on?”
There was a brief glimmer of light - a fleeting moment of epiphany and then it passed. We returned to discussing our youthful ambitions and purpose driven lives with nothing more said about my momentary lapse. It could have served as a bridge to a whole new life in Him but it was too premature. None of us had the understanding, scriptural insight or experience to go beyond that brief, “aha” moment. We had been forging ahead in our performance driven lives for too long to change course. It was also too easy to defend because we thought we were doing it all for God. But, for all intents and purposes, it was “A Bridge Too Far”. Several more years would pass before I finally got it. Most in that meeting never will.
I have since learned many liberating truths about performance driven Christianity. I learned that performance driven “church life” is an oxymoron. I finally got the full implications of what Jesus was trying to tell Martha. This is why I didn't swallow Warren’s “Purpose Driven Cool-Aid” when everyone else thought it was the drink of choice. I’d already been there and done that and knew the serious flaws behind the hype. Purpose driven, performance driven Christianity is fundamentally flawed because it always places the subtle emphasis upon us, our own understanding, our own initiative, our own self-striving and more often than not, our own self-sufficiency. It inevitably focuses our attention on doing rather than being, on striving rather than abiding, upon ministry rather than Jesus. Consequently, our relationship with Jesus and others becomes buried under a growing pile of spiritual duties, ministerial demands and discipleship quotas. Sadly, they take us farther away from Jesus not closer.
Jesus is not interested in how purpose driven we are. If performance is what Jesus was primarily interested in He would have commended Martha for her busyness and reproved Mary for being an indolent dolt. It’s not our church involvements but our involvement with Him which He is concerned about the most. What the emphasis on performance misses is this – It’s not about our drive to find purpose but our drive to know Him. Our love for Him is the wellspring from which all true works flow. This is that “faith working by love.” It is in the crucible of simple, abiding faith and the confident resting in Him that His works are spontaneously birthed. Far more springs from quietly abiding than all the self-works generated through our purpose driven zeal. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and shall not faint.” – (Isaiah 40:31)