Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3 AMP
Paul encouraged the Colossians to not get caught up in the toxic legalism that was infecting pure, relational spirituality. They had become so attached to rules and regulations that the Colossians had become performance focused.
Christ died so that we could live out our faith so that we might be free to enjoy God in fellowship. Paul asked the Colossians why they lived as though they belonged to the world if they died to it with Christ. The regulations of man have an appearance of wisdom, but they are imposed worship, false humility and harsh treatment of the body. They lack any value in restraining indulgence.
If we are caught up in rules and regulations, we can never live fully obedient to Christ. We cannot make our faith performance based. Our faith is a performance-free journey. This ought to be a relief to us, because we can never perform well enough to earn the enormity of God’s Grace. We are not consistent enough to earn the bounty of God’s blessings.
If we live a solely performance-based life, it takes what was meant to be a joyful journey and turns it into legalistic dread. With this worldview, Jesus can never be viewed as a friend. Instead, He becomes an inspection agent, always pointing out the places where we have glaring contradictions. Of course, this does not give us free reign to live any way we feel we are entitled to. When we make the decision to follow Christ, we also make the decision to live according to His Word, but when we enter into a loving relationship with Him, living a Christ focused life brings us tremendous joy and purpose.
If we live a solely performance-based life, we spend every moment thinking of the things we ought to do and ought not to do, and our lives become nothing more than avoiding sin. But the real sin is going the whole day without acknowledging the love of God. It is tiring and taxing to live like this. It creates a strong versus weak environment.
We cannot perform our way through our spirituality. We don’t need to figure out our stage presence every day. Our lives in Christ must become our lifestyle until we function in total freedom. We have already been set free, and that freedom shapes our performance—not the other way around.