~ by John Graham
Do you sometimes feel like God’s directives are a burden? You want to please God but you have tried, and the Christian life is not what you expected. You feel like you’re doing your best yet it is still not enough. Perhaps you’re taking on more than God intends, or wonder if God is pleased with you. You wish you knew exactly what God wanted and if you did, then you would know what to do. Instead, it has been kind of quiet and you’re not sure of what His will is for your life.
At Abundant Grace International, we teach a very simple acrostic in understanding what you are experiencing. We have found that individuals have a fleshly tendency to live a life, seeking to please or perform for others in order to be accepted. This is sometimes difficult to understand. One of our clients worked on an assembly line. The pressures to perform and keep up the pace was overwhelming. In the process of counseling he had difficulty in separating performance at work and life from his view of pleasing God. This can be a mind-boggling concept due to the fact that if he does not perform at his job, he will lose it. We have certainly been taught that from our youth. Just think of it. Grade school (report cards), soccer field (score points), High school (peer pressure, be accepted) college (hammer out the work), life, find a spouse (get a job, happy life…). It’s exhausting just talking about it. In one sense he was justified in his thinking about his job, and on the other hand totally wrong concerning his relationship with God.
Well, when someone walks thru the door at AGI one of the first questions we ask is How is life working for you? Every answer is, it’s not. Let me introduce you to that acrostic I was talking about. PBA – Those letters stand for Performance Based Acceptance. We are taught from the beginning that this is how we do life. The big problem with that is the evil one has taken the truth and flipped it. God never meant for our performance to add up to anything. The ten commandments were not given to live up to, but to show we cannot live it. Instead, we need HIM. 1 Cor 10: 11 and Gal 3:24 For the most part we understand that when it comes to salvation, but give it a while and the flip takes place. The evil one has taken the truth, ABP, Acceptance Based Performance, and done the flip. Yes, and we have bought into it and carry guilt because of it. After all he is the deceiver, the liar, and the accuser.
How wonderful that the Spirit of God can incline our heart to desire God’s will. Instead of longing to do what’s right and trying harder to keep up, to perform, without adequate strength to do it, God desires us to understand our acceptance in Him. Then He empowers us to work according to His good pleasure. As we walk in the Spirit with God’s grace as our supply, we discover that “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Evan Hopkins wrote of the joy of having God’s presence in our lives.
“It is God who is working in you. It is not a mere religious influence, but a person—the Lord Himself. He is in you. He has come into the center of your being and taken possession of you, both to will and to work. This does not mean that you cease to exist, or that your personality is at an end. No, you are just the same responsible person you always were. But you give way to Him who is the true owner of your whole being. He now takes the place you yourself once occupied. You were once the center, but Christ is now your Center, and you can say, ‘He lived in me’. The ‘I’ or ‘me’ still exists, but the living Lord is in the center of ‘me’. Let that be true of us, and we can see how the power needed for the working is sufficient and continuous, because it is not ours, but His.”
There are many types of Christian counseling. Some provide a band aid that covers the symptoms but does not deal with the actual false belief. A client once said;
“When I first came to Abundant Grace, I had six major problems I wanted God to fix so I could be happy again. I slowly began to realize that my problems were not the main problem after all. God set me free to realize that I am complete in Him. My Joy and peace have been renewed!” ~ R.S.
Why not want to, desire to, get to, love to?