Summary: This sermon seeks to encourage persons to get off the performance treadmill to experience growth in grace and Christian maturity through an intimate relationship with Christ.
Most of us have been educated in the “school of performance.” In fact, Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” From the very beginning of our lives we’re taught that we must perform properly in order to get what we want. There’s a direct relationship between how hard we work and how much we’re rewarded. For example, “Be good & you’ll get a cookie.” “Clean your room and you’ll get your allowance.” “Practice hard and you’ll make the varsity team.” “Study in college and you’ll get a better job.” And on the list could go.
The tragedy of this world’s philosophy is that we become so conditioned by it we carry it over into our Christian experience. The grace of God that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9) loses its meaning when we’re bombarded with the pressure to perform. And this pressure often comes packaged in religious verbiage such as, “God helps those who help themselves.” It sounds good; the only problem is, it’s not biblical! There’s only one place where you and I can stop performing and that’s in the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ – He who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The same grace that saves us is what sustains us and enables us to grow. It teaches us how to live here and now – without performing!
Peter exhorted all of us to “grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And if we’re going to experience progress in our personal relationship, transformation in our inner self, success in our outward behavior and growth in the grace of Jesus Christ we must first of all:
I. Recognize a Need for Growing in Grace
Peter’s statement points that out clear enough. And the truth is this is the easy part, that’s not hard at all. For example, Bob had been a Christian for about 6 years and had come to Dallas to head up a major city wide evangelistic campaign, hosting a daily radio program and working with some of the largest churches in America. He was beginning to think he was close to reaching the ultimate in Christian maturity - until one day he took his wife shopping at the mall. Crowded and busy like this time of year parking was at a premium. Seeing 2 empty spaces right near the entrance as he approached his “answer to prayer” a guy driving a shiny new sports car pulled into that spot straddling the line.
At first Bob thought it was an accident, so he rolled down his window and said nicely, “Sir, you probably haven’t noticed, but you’ve taken up 2 spaces.” He gave Bob a quick glance and with a smirk said, “I know it.” As he got out of his car, Bob got a good look at him. He was middle-aged, with flecks of gray in his well groomed hair. His shirt was open down the front, revealing numerous gold chains dangling over what looked like a “chest toupee.” Bob felt instant and total dislike for that man. A little more forcefully Bob responded, “Well, would you please repark it, so I can use one of the spaces?” Holding out his arm to escort a much younger-looking girl, the man replied, “No.”