Are you tired of performing?
I guess whatever our age, performing for others is a pretty regular and standard part of our lives these days. Some more senior in years may say it’s always been this way, but I wonder if there has been an escalation in recent years. I feel it and it is draining.
Testing of school age children is pretty relentless. The stress and anxiety surrounding this and not least the concern regarding parental expectations really is a heavy load for some to bear. Comparison with others and finding your place in the pecking order and coming to terms with that, aren’t easy.
Without questioning the pros and cons of social media, for many the burden to perform is experienced there too. What image do I wish to portray? What is acceptable? How do I compare or compete with that presented by others? For some, this brings much harm. For the many we can find ourselves putting on a bit of an act – presenting the perfect family, the ideal holiday, the blissful relationship. We know this isn’t the whole story, but this is what we present for others to see. We can be driven by a deep need within to perform.
For those of us who attend church, this same deep-seated need, can give rise to religious performance! We can present ourselves as a thoroughly ‘good’ Christian. For some this may be about dressing up smart and putting in an appearance at a church service. For others, it might actually be about sacrificially giving up our time to serve others, run groups and activities. Performing for others can easily be mistaken for loving others.
Jesus once said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’.
After performing for others at school, university, on social media, in the work place, our neighbourhood, even in our family and possibly our church, Jesus says, ‘Come to me, and I will give you rest’. So often we can think that Christianity is really just another set of demands. Come and live this way – more performance requirements.
However, if we listen carefully to Jesus, we will hear him explain that our drive to perform is primarily a drive to cover our sense of guilt and shame. Think about it – why don’t we present ourselves as we really are? We present and perform to be accepted, thought well of, because if people saw everything, if all was laid bare, we fear we wouldn't be liked. Being truly and fully known is something that drives us into hiding. But if hiding and pretending is exhausting you, then there is good news.
Jesus says, ‘I know you perfectly, I paid for your guilt on the cross, so come to me, your shame can be removed. I can give you rest, both now and forever’. Jesus knows each of us perfectly, he knows how we have really lived, he knows who we really are, he sees through our pretence. Our guilt brings rightful condemnation from a holy God, but his love for us provides a Saviour, who reaches out to us. He says, 'Come to me...and I will give you rest'.