The Dancing Bear

2 12 2013

Anxiety, strife, guilt, shame, anger, pride, addiction, and legalism have, at their core, the problem of trying to please people and/or God.

How well do love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control fit together with these?

Not very well.

We live in a world where appearances are everything. Deviate from societal norms, and we find ourselves labeled. Few risk being different – and not care that they’re considered an oddity.

Striving to be accepted takes continual effort. We must monitor our behavior and adjust what we do and say to suit whomever we are with.

We live for acceptance, rather than from a position of acceptance. We can be like dancing bears whose performance is geared toward the audience, and intended to be and do things that make them happy and gain their approval.

The problem with this kind of living is that God will NOT co-operate with us so as to make us better actors. He is not moved by our performance – good or bad.

If you don’t have this verse memorized, I would recommend that you add it to your mental library:

“Do I now persuade men or God? Or do I still seek to please men? For if I pleased men, I cannot be a bondservant of Christ.”  (Galatians 1:10)

When our aim is to keep others happy, we have placed them on the throne of our lives. They are the ones we live for. They are the ones who make – or break – our self-worth.

This is basic idolatry.

On the other hand, when we find ourselves continually performing for God, we are only looking for His approval (most often expecting His disapproval), and thus are unable to feel close or connected.

We are always braced for judgment.

God is watching me. I’d better get this right. 

We strive and strain to earn His approval. When we fall short (and we will fall short!), we are filled with shame, guilt, and condemnation.

Can I let you in on a little secret?

God knows all about you…

…and loves you with an everlasting love!

Psalm 103:12-14 is incredibly good news for us:

As far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us.

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

For He Himself knows what we are made of;

He is mindful that we are but dust!

When we went to Israel a few years ago, I collected various things – rocks from the Valley of Elah (David & Goliath), shells from Gallilee’s shore, rocks that “would have cried out” at Christ’s Triumphal Entry had the people been silent, an olive leaf from Gethsemane, etc. Among these treasures is a jar of dirt. I value this soil above any other, for one day it will be my homeland.

Holy Land dirt, wow! What do I expect from it?


Get the picture?

Let’s wrap this up with a quote by Oswald Chambers:

It is a snare to imagine that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do;

God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. 

(From My Utmost for His Highest, December 2)

Seek His help to get out of the performance trap; seek God Himself for Himself (not merely for what He can do for you), and watch this relationship blossom!

Don’t miss Reilly’s excellent post on this subject today. He said all I should have…and failed to. You’ll find it here: Where Did the Gospel Go?


You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…

This section is about obstacles to intimacy. It begins here: A Clogged Conduit




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