I was raised in
a performance-based household. As a compliant first-born, and a people pleaser, I worked hard to live up to my parents’ expectations. Sometimes I achieved that, but woe unto me if I failed.
If that were not enough,
I was raised in legalistic churches. Legalism has suffocated and bruised me for most of my life. Sometimes it came from without; sometimes it surfaced from within me. Every so often, I thought I might be close to understanding and defeating this enemy of my soul, but legalism, is a slippery but sticky rogue.
legalism is a performance-based system where a person tries to earn acceptance by following prescribed rules and formulas. Religiously speaking, it is someone who tries to earn God’s forgiveness and approval by doing something to gain favor with Him. Often, the church leader is looked up to as God’s representative, and such a leader thus becomes the focus of someone’s hopes of gaining good will. As long as a person feels he has succeeded, the euphoria will carry him on to the next expectation. This can keep a body adding to her works, and maintaining her course for some time in order to try and earn more approval.
Unless you are the Energizer Bunny,
at some point you will get to the end of your endurance. This will happen sooner or later. At that point, you may be “encouraged” to attend more church services to get right with God, or urged to take on more “ministries” because your problem is that you don’t have enough to do. It is possible that even when you have nothing left to give, you may be urged to take on more ministries because there is a need. Or,you may lay yourself open to a rebuke, and/ an admonition along the lines of how disappointed God is with you.
At this point,
you can walk away from a given situation, and start over again elsewhere. Unfortunately, though I walked away and started over more than once, I was still preoccupied by the false dogma of legalism, and felt I was only on the right path if I was performing my religious duties and gaining acceptance from whomever was in charge.
To be continued…