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Non-Performance-Based Participation

by | Feb 16, 2022 | Dependency, Grace, Surrender

And He [Jesus] lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said, ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.'” (Luke 6:20 ESV)

This devotion pairs with this weekend’s Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.

What follows, in this scene from the Gospel according to Luke, are teachings from Jesus for His disciples, which reflect His unique relationship with them.

As His disciples today, how should we understand this relationship? Is it like trying out for a sports team? When I was a freshman in high school, I tried out for the basketball team. The coach told us there would be cuts. Now at the time, I was five-foot-two. And I wasn’t exactly “Pistol Pete” when it comes to shooting. So, as you can imagine, I was stressed out about my performance during tryouts. And yes, I got cut. Is that what it’s like as a disciple of Jesus? The answer is no. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 5:32—“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (ESV). Being on Team Jesus doesn’t depend on your performance. It’s not a try-out. It’s non-performance-based belonging.

But that doesn’t mean it’s non-participatory. For example, I’m a member of a club that is non-participatory. There was no try-out. I just gave them my email address and now they send me updates. Nothing is required of me; nothing is expected of me; no performance, no participation. This, also, is not what Jesus had in mind for His disciples. If you’re on Team Jesus, it’s non-performance based, and full participation.

Okay, so what does that look like? It looks like the time my friend Paul taught our friend Jeff how to snow ski. Paul loves skiing and he’s happy to teach anyone who’s willing. He says, “Even if all you can do today is put two turns together, in my book, that’s a win.” Paul is an expert skier. But Jeff had never even seen a mountain, let alone skied one. And on the first run that day, it took us two-and-half hours to get down the mountain. I lost track of how many times Jeff fell. And I was frustrated. I was frustrated with how poorly Jeff was performing. But Paul wouldn’t give up on him. At one point, to keep Jeff’s knees from buckling, Paul is skiing backwards in front of him, holding him up. And Jeff is leaning his full weight on Paul. For Jeff, it was  non-performance-based full participation.

That’s what it’s like being a disciple of Jesus. It’s not like a try-out, but it is participatory, like a team, or better, like a family. Read the rest of Luke 6 today and see what Jesus expects of His family. There is some challenging teaching in there—challenging enough to make your knees buckle in prayer and say, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.” But Jesus won’t give up on you. Even if all you can today is put a couple of turns together, you don’t need to stress out about your performance. Just lean your full weight on Jesus and keep turning back to Him. Keep repenting. Keep participating.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for being so patient with me. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 11, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved

Reflection Questions:
1. What is another example of “non-performance-based participation”? Do you have story?
2. What’s the greater risk for you—stressing out about your performance or failing to participate?
3. Reading Luke chapter 6:20-49, what reassures you? What challenges you?

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