Freedom From Performance

"My first ever encounter with Jesus was the most freeing thing that’s ever happened to me... His grace frees me to go wherever I think he’s leading me and not be afraid to fail." A short interview with JJ, a senior at Presbyterian College:

JJ and EllisWhen did you come to faith?

I grew up being religious, but it wasn’t until college that God gave me eyes to see people who actually knew Jesus. Three guys in particular had a huge spiritual impact on me: Derrick and Chris were resident assistants, and Josh led my Bible study. I saw that the joy they experienced in knowing Jesus was different from anything I had, and that led to me to begin questioning my beliefs. The change was undeniable. Actually seeing Jesus after walking in an illusion for 19 to 20 years was so freeing. My first ever encounter with Jesus was the most freeing thing that’s ever happened to me.

Looking back on the last 4 years, how do you feel you've grown the most?

I’ve grown in my understanding of grace and in my understanding of biblical community; both have led me to know more of Jesus. It’s hard to share what I’ve learned without mentioning what I didn’t know before being a Christian. I used to live very legalistically. I was a perfectionist; everything had to be done the right way, and I performed for everyone. Season by season, since coming to know Jesus, He’s been showing me his unconditional love over and over again. I’m loved already. I don’t have to perform for Him.

JJ footballI’ve been so blessed to be around a bunch of Christian guys at PC, who have helped me to understand what Biblical community is. Specifically, I think about how two of my roommates from my sophomore year and I have grown. It’s amazing to look back at how we’ve learned to love one another selflessly, how we’ve learned to fight sin together, and how we’ve become more and more invested in each other’s lives. I’ve learned the joy and significance of living life with other people who love Jesus.

What impact do these things have on your future?

Before knowing Jesus, I knew exactly what I wanted my life to look like, but when Christ revealed himself to me, that changed everything. Although I don’t know exactly what’s next, because he’s shown me that he is worth everything, my whole future is going to be built around him and what he wants for me. Understanding the importance of community in my life, wherever I go I want to have people who love me in a biblical way and can hold me accountable. God’s grace is still shaping the way I think about my life, and though it’s not a performance anymore, it is still a struggle to believe that some days. His grace frees me to go wherever I think he’s leading me and not be afraid to fail. If he is the goal, then all he wants from me is faithfulness and obedience, not my performance.