All religions are fundamentally based in human performance. The follower must pray often or correctly enough, be moral enough, have enough piety or zeal, give enough, sacrifice enough, love enough, serve enough and adhere to countless other requirements as prescribed by their religion. Regardless of whether this is a formalized religion or a far less structured religion; all religion is based on human performance in an attempt to earn heaven, acceptance, approval, or blessing from God (or gods). Some religions aren’t attempting to earn approval, but are only trying to keep their deity from raining down wrath from on high.
Therefore, it is no surprise that a large number of people, many who would profess to be Christians, bring this same orientation to Christianity. Many misunderstand Christianity, believing that it is founded on the same principles as every other religion – human performance and adherence to a code of conduct & morals. This is not true of Christianity. Christianity’s foundations are not built upon human performance, but God’s performance on our behalf (grace). Christianity requires that we do the one thing that we are all hardwired to hate: depend on something other than our own abilities. Christianity requires that we place our ultimate trust in something outside of ourselves – the performance & sacrifice of Christ. Christianity requires that we bring nothing to the table to barter with God, except for our failures and shortcomings (sin). Christianity requires a recognition that we have nothing to contribute – even our faith is not produced by our own effort. Christianity requires that we do that which is so counter-intuitive to is: abandon our own performance.
When Christians understand that there is nothing that they can do to earn God’s acceptance, they become liberated to joyfully live their lives with abandon and obedience. It was not our performance or ability that earned God’s acceptance in the first place and it is not our performance or ability that maintains God’s approval even after we are saved. Our approval & acceptance by God is earned by the performance of Christ, period. We do nothing to gain His approval – ever (not to earn salvation or to stay in His good graces after salvation). Our ability to perform and obey has nothing to do with God’s acceptance of us. The more we understand this, they more we will be moved to obey.