Escaping the Performance Trap


It’s no wonder so many people don’t enjoy their Christian faith when all they know is obligation and duty-motivated obedience. If you’re serious about catching the refreshing breeze of God and moving forward, then you have to keep your love for God alive. Don’t just try to keep it on life support by relying on your religion. That will keep you grounded in the doldrums. Jesus offers you something far better: he invites you to fall in love with him, to know who he really is and not just who others say he is. “You are the giver of life. Your light lets us enjoy life” (Psalm 36:9, NCV). That is the key to finding ultimate fulfillment in life. Foster your relationship in a way that deepens your intimacy. Fall more in love with him. Discover more of who he is. Enjoy the fullness of who he is as your Lord, your Father, your Creator. This is the fundamental message of the Bible, and yet I often fear that so many have missed it.

People end up viewing Christians as indentured servants to a divine tyrant who demands “good behavior” from his followers. Again, they get a negative impression of what it means to have faith in a loving God. They don’t see us enjoying a divine romance and instead often interpret what they see as something negative or even abusive. But God is the essence of love, the reason we can even attempt to love others. If we ever stop loving God, then it’s over “because no one can eat or enjoy life without him” (Ecclesiastes 2:25, NCV).

God invites us into the masterpiece of his love, his character, and his personality directly. It’s the key to our ultimate fulfillment in life. Rather than trying to obey a checklist, when we cultivate a relationship with God, then it’s no big deal to obey his commands. We want to please him, to know him, to trust him.

In chapter 1, we exposed the lifeless condition we all can find ourselves in from time to time. And in chapter 2, we explored what fresh air looks like. But before we can start the process of breathing again, it’s critical to realize that it all begins with a vibrant, intimate relationship with God.

Over the years, I’ve watched discouraged believers—myself included—finally experience the fresh wind that pushed them out of the doldrums when they addressed one or more of the eight areas we’ll look at in part 2. Each of these attitudes and actions has the potential either to draw us closer to God or move us away from him.

I hope you’re convinced by now that a breath of fresh air doesn’t come by changing anything on the outside. It doesn’t come from formulas, systems, or structures. It comes when something happens on the inside of us, when our love for God is so vibrant that it spills over into the way we see everything.

As we will explore in the chapters to come, discovering love at the heart of our relationship with him breathes new life into every area of our lives, beginning with our perspective and outlook.


The Christian faith is not an impersonal business transaction. And Christianity will breathe life into you only if you have an intimate, personal relationship with God. While there are steps you can take to grow closer to God (as you’ll see in coming chapters), your motivation has to be a desire for relationship, not a sense of duty. You can fulfill the commands of the Bible better by falling in love with God than by trying to obey a checklist of rules.

So the question is simple: Are you in love with God? Just like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, God is asking you, “Do you love me?” I encourage you to respond to his great love today.

Start by having an honest conversation with God. Tell him how you feel and where you’re frustrated or afraid of loving him. Spend at least a few minutes listening for his response, perhaps while reflecting on the passage below.

Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:17-19, NLT

This excerpt is taken from Fresh Air by Chris Hodges. Copyright © 2012 by Chris Hodges. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Order from Fresh Air: Trading Spiritual Obligation for a Life-Altering, Energizing, Experience-It-Everyday Relationship With God


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