The Prison of Approval

Erik Cooper —  October 27, 2010 — 3 Comments

Millions of Christians are imprisoned all over the globe today. And I’m not talking about China or Iran.

These Christians live in our communities.  They attend churches.  Some of them attend my church. They even inhabit my home (and some days even my own skin).

How does Christianity, this bastion of eternal hope and freedom over enduring generations, become a subtly enclosing detention center for so many?

Performance is our prison. We innately know every choreographed step in the dance of acceptance (my fundamentalist friends will be happy to know that this kind of dancing really is a sin).  It’s wired into our DNA, our lives feverishly focused on earning the approval of everyone around us.

And of God.

Even those who cognitively understand the beauty of the Cross can easily revert.  Because somewhere we still believe Jesus  sacrifice was all about making us behave. Fit a mold.  Look at certain way.  Play a part.  And our obsession remains squarely on self.  To impress.  To bring applause (or avoid shame) from others.  To bring God to us.

And it’s flat out exhausting.

Because it can’t be done.  It can’t be earned.  Yet so many of us still inhabit a prison of self disguised in a costume of Christianity. And it was never intended to be that way.  Check this out:

“My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” (Gal. 2:20 MSG)

“My ego is no longer central…”

Ego wants to be liked

Ego wants to be popular

Ego wants to be respected

Ego wants a good reputation

Ego wants to be in control

Ego wants to earn

Ego filters every conversation, comment, opportunity, and interaction through how it affects…me. And that is the worst prison.  Ironically, a prison so many who claim freedom in Jesus choose to enclose themselves in every day.

Not me.  Not anymore.  My ego is no longer central. Christ lives in me, and the beauty that emerges from my life is simply because I’m responding to Him.

Is the center of your “Christianity” still…you?

3 responses to The Prison of Approval

  1. Hey, Erik, you certainly rang the bell with this one! The observation that “.. so many of us still inhabit a prison of self disguised in a costume of Christianity” is powerful and unfortunately too true. Lord, set us free from these self-imposed chains!

  2. Hi Erik! I too struggle so much with approval. Thank you for reminding me that God’s love is unconditional no matter what. Wrote this blog post a while back about approval vs affirmation, thought you might enjoy reading it. Here is the link.

    http://myloveletter2god.blogspot.com/2010/05/approval-addiction-affirmation.html

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