Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My 'Performance-Based Acceptance' Story

I am sharing this story as part of the synchroblog idea Joel came up with. The biggest challenge for me to write this up here is about how to make it short. :)

I was born in a very orthodox Christian family, where my parents, grand parents and many generations practiced Eastern Orthodox religion (a branch of Greek Orthodox). Religion, church, and related rituals were all part of our life during childhood. Starting with my parents, continuing with my teachers at school and Sunday school, including the church clergies, pretty much all the people I ever came to know in my life, in one way or the other, knowingly or unknowingly have tried to put pressure on me to perform/behave in a certain way. In other words, no one wanted to accept me as who I was. Everyone expected something from me - from good grades in school to good behaviors at church.

All these, including many incidents through out my childhood, slowly started to inject a deadly poison into my brain - that my worth is directly depended on my performance.

Later on, in my late twenties, I was introduced to Pentecostalism, where I learned the idea of being born-again first time in my life. I saw it in the Bible that Jesus is the only means for Salvation (which the orthodox church never taught!). I got saved by believing in Jesus. It brought a lot of joy into my life.

But, sooner my focus started changing. I started falling into 'doing' stuff, thinking that is what God expected from me as a Christian. It all got powered up by the faulty concept many of us has learned during our life time - that our worth is directly depending on our performance.

The following few years, my life was a roller-coaster ride of performance, gaining Bible knowledge, religious show off, emotional experiences, faith formulas, prosperity gospel, prophecies, health and wealth, name it and claim it, end times and all that you can think of.

I started following the popular beliefs of 'churchianity'.

As a follower of churchianity, I have always thought I have to do 'big' things for God. I remember, few months after becoming a Christian I started participating in the evangelical programs of the church. I went to university campus to reach out to the students with the message of gospel. I visited homes telling them about Jesus. I distributed ‘free chilled water’ in summer for the commuters, handing over tracts along with water bottles. When some people hesitated to accept the tracts I thought that was ‘persecution’ and felt so proud that I am being persecuted for Christ! I acted in bible dramas to reach out to unbelievers. I felt so good because I was doing all the big things. Sometimes I forgot my small family back at home waiting for me. I walked with big bibles and expositories in my hand and engaged in big theological discussions. ‘End times’ was one of my favorites. People considered me as a person who is ‘fired up’ for Jesus. I liked the attention I started to get. I did more to bring more attention. I was busy and acted busy as well around others. I enjoyed the praises of elders and pastors. I appeared happy and busy for God on Sundays. After all these, on Monday when I wake up I was dry and miserable like hell. I was impatient towards my wife. I wondered what Jesus meant by the 'spring of water welling up in us'. I had no joy. I used to cry out to God while driving to office, to bring joy in my life. I negotiated with Him about the big things I am doing. I reminded Him the things I did and demanded 'joy'.

I was focused on doing big things while forgetting the small things - resting in Him, enjoying His life, abiding in Him just like a branch, allowing Him to live His life through me, learning to be contented in all the circumstances (As Paul said in Philippians 4:10-14).

He heard my prayer and I got His attention (or He got my attention?) in the year of 2006. He put me through a revolution, a grace revolution. His radical grace started changing my outlook on everything radically. He revealed the truth of His gospel and showed me the freedom He offered. He taught me to read the Bible for what it means, not just what it says. He changed my perception of Him that He isn't an angry God waiting up there to whack us when we misbehave, but a loving, compassionate God who operates from the paradigm of amazing GRACE. I started seeing myself as He sees me, as a new creation in Christ who is accepted into His family as His own precious child on the sole basis of what Jesus did, not what I do/did/will do.

I started unlearning religion. It still contines, even today...

Make no mistake, this isn't an easy journey. There are many lonely moments. There is opposition. This is not a popular belief. This isn't about following the majority. There is pressure from legalistic sources. There is confusion, doubts, questions, challenges and all that. But, regardless of any of it, I wouldn't trade this journey for anything. He has given me the confidence, that no matter how I mess up, I can still snuggle back into His lap and call Him "Abba, Father!". And there is nothing, nothing which can separate me from His love. NOTHING!

8 comments:

Amy said...

Bino,
Thank you for this wonderful description of your past and how Papa Jesus Holy Spirit walked you into understanding His Love and Grace on this Journey. I knew some of your story, but not all that you shared here. I appreciate this blogpost, a lot!

I love what you said here and I feel exactly the same way:

"But, regardless of any of it, I wouldn't trade this journey for anything. He has given me the confidence, that no matter how I mess up, I can still snuggle back into His lap and call Him "Abba, Father!". And there is nothing, nothing which can separate me from His love. NOTHING!"

Amen!

Blessings,
~Amy :)

Jamie said...

Thank you, Bino, for sharing your experiences with us! I can sure relate!! Brought up to give God not ourselves but our BEST!! Huh...heaven gave it's BEST so we don't have to do anything but live loved.

Love to you & yours. :)

Joel B. said...

Bino... I can relate to the challenge of making it short! I ended up writing and rewriting mine, cutting things out and rewording things just so it wouldn't be too long! Brevity is always a struggle for me. :)

Thanks for sharing your story. As Amy said, I know some of your story but I learned some new things about you and your history here.

"Deadly poison into my brain..." Wow! Such a great description!

I can relate to the roller coaster ride, as I shared in my story as well. Man, that is the worst way to live life. It's just so sad that all of this happens in the church, where people are supposed to be free!

I also truly relate to my past thoughts that I had to do 'big' things for God. I 'knew' He had big things that He wanted to do, but it was never going to happen until I got my life straight and began performing well enough for Him to be able to finally 'use' me in big ways. Every time I messed up... or even when I didn't 'mess up' but just didn't feel I was doing good enough... I would think to myself, "How many years has that added to the time it will take to get to a place where God can truly use me?"

I'm so glad to be out of most of that junk, and growing in freedom! It truly is a journey, and I don't know anyone who's "arrived" at a place of complete freedom from performance-based acceptance... but the sharing of our stories really does go a long way, I think.

The Lewis Family said...

I so understand! Great story eh!

- Becky

lydia joy said...

Hey Bino, this was great!! I enjoyed getting to know you better!! It sure is a wonderful roller coaster ride we are all on together..........

Blessings on you and your 'little' family :)

Bino M. said...

Amy, Jamie, Joel, Becky and Lydia -

Thank you all for reading my story and for your encouraging words.

Love,
Bino.

Joel B. said...

Wow... you freaked me out for a second there, Bino. My younger sister's name is Amie and my older sister's name is Becky (I'm in the middle of them). So when I saw that you wrote "Amy, Jamie," I read that as "Amie." And then "Joel" in the middle and then "Becky." Freaky! If only Lydia's name was "Barry" (my older brother) then it would be my complete group of sibs... LOL :)

Bino M. said...

Ha Ha! Joel! That's funny! :)