and then this straight-up slapped me in the face.
I read this specific section about 1-2 weeks ago as I’ve been progressing through Jesus + Nothing = Everything. The book in itself has been rocking my system of thinking and God has used it recently as one of the many means to show me my legalistic thought patterns.
Identity has been a huge struggle for me, specifically during the past 1 1/2 years. Who am I. What is worth. Where is my purpose. What must I do. How much is enough. Where is freedom. Is there hope.
Who will deliver us.
Paul Zahl authors his book with those exact words and Tullian uses this section in his book to knife deep into hearts obsessed with performance:
“If I can do enough of the right things, I will have established my worth.
Identity is the sum of my achievements. Hence, if I can satisfy the boss, meet the needs of my spouse and children, and still do justice to my inner aspirations, then I will have proven my worth. There are infinite ways to prove our worth along these lines.
The basic equation is this: I am what I do. It is a religious position in life because it tries to answer in practical terms the questions, Who am I and what is my niche in the universe? On this reading, my niche is in proportion to my deeds. In Christian theology, such a position is called justification by works. It assumes that my worth is measured by my performance. Conversely, it conceals, thinly, a dark and ghastly fear: If I do not perform, I will be judged unworthy. To myself I will cease to exist.”
Do you see any freedom in that kind of thinking? Nope. nada. zilch.
Honestly, I am still wrapping my mind around this. I haven’t arrived. But I don’t really think that’s the point. We read that and think, “Ok, so I guess I need to work on my identity and find it in Christ alone.”
That’s. Impossible. There is no hope in that thinking and the whole phrase is a ridiculous oxymoron.
But, really, what am I to do? Who will deliver me if I can’t “make” my identity to be only in Christ? God, if you don’t step in and intervene, then I am lost. I cannot be free from performance unless I with broken hands cling to the performance of Another. Teach me what this mindset practically looks like because I cannot go in to work tomorrow with the perspective that I have been believing for so long now.
Somehow, someway, I want my life to stand up and shout, “Look at what Jesus has accomplished! He’s worth it!”