November 20, 2017

By Paul J Banta

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 says, “Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.  Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” – NLT

Winning is about how well you coach your players to perform for you. You prepare hard knowing there are two concepts to have good outcomes: Perform or Perish! As competitors, we want our players to step onto the pitch, put everything else out of their mind except the game for 90 minutes. When we train our team, we prepare for the match not letting inside struggles affect the extreme performance so they can compete at a high level for match success regardless of internal pressures are there. The show must go on. Fake it until you make it. Coaches, we master this skill during the competition, and we quickly learn how to apply it to everyday life. The performance mindset in sports becomes the way we do life. Life becomes a show, and you’re trying to control it. We want others to see us as better than who we are. We think we’re magical about hiding our internal struggles. I just came back from African and had this experience with a person over there. So sad to see an unnecessary reinventing of a person I had to work with and all he should have done was what God’s trying to have him be and he failed big time and lied and blamed others for his mistakes. The front-stage (the match or our performing) contradicts the back-stage (stuff off the field). This battle rages within us creating an enormous amount of inner-tension.

Our life becomes a daily show to impresses others. The lies that drive us becomes a more natural way for us to perform, and they illustrate what our exact inner person is. Our prayer is that nobody will ever discover the pain, insecurities, weaknesses, wounds, and sins in our lives. We keep it in the dark where it belongs. It must not make it to the front-stage. If the back-stage is exposed, we think it will embarrass the life out of us and shock our closest friends and shame our family. The front-stage controls the back-stage. However, as long as the front-stage is in control, we will live in bondage, and our lives are tied up by the standards put on us by this world for we practice the ways of the world and sometimes not even aware of it. Freedom to live right is gone for the sake of protecting the back-stage. We think if the backstage ever becomes the front stage, it would take too much work, cause too much pain and bring too much regret. We even believe a life of duplicity is more comfortable than the authenticity life that can only be found in Christ.

Performance-based living produces legalism and destroys the grace-based life. Pursuing holiness is biblical, but acting all holy can stinks at times. Is there hope for the back-stage? Yes, it is and found in seeking wholeness of our innermost being our soul and letting the love of Jesus invade our hearts. This brings the healing that is desperately needed! Christ’s stage replaces the back-stage and front-stage, and our performance is only about Him and not about ourselves. The world helps us become the fools for the devil always intended for us to be while living a life for Christ only defeat this old idiot sending him the message that he no longer can frustrate you as you live out and will serve out my magnanimously for Jesus. No more pretending. Give up your image and restore your heart. God does not need your performances to advance the Kingdom of God because He only wants your soul. He wants you to pursue the stage Christ wants you to have passion and purpose for His plan for your life. He loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay the way you are!

What’s your next move?