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Can You Earn the Gospel of Jesus?

Can You Earn the Gospel of Jesus?

[This is Part 1 of a larger piece entitled, “An Inquiry into The Incompatibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a Religious, Performance-Based Psychology”]


A performance mentality breeds self-loathing and condemnation when used in conjunction with the Gospel of Christianity. Often, a misunderstanding of the essence of the Gospel creates a deep, underlying angst over personal holiness. Those who fall into this camp, whether out of ignorance or volition, strive with all capacity and agency to ascend the mount of holiness alone.


However, as I wish to demonstrate in this essay, such a quest ends with the imprisonment of safe-guarding behavior that unsuccessfully mitigates disobedience fails to develop self-control, invites the crushing weight of disappointment, and fosters an incorrect, egotistical view of self in light of the Gospel, rather than bestow the riches and substance of the development of wisdom and the power of preemptive, Spirit-prompted self-control, a joyful, genuine submission to obedience, and a correct, Gospel-centric view of self.

We must reverse-engineer from the sequential spiral of anti-symptomatic behavior modification and speed to the heart of the issue, which creates space for inner strengthening and a manifestation of the consequences of a discovery of such a Truth that allows Freedom to have its say and rule our lives.


Before I venture further into this topic, I wish to qualify a number of points I will make.The aim of this essay is not to discourage or disparage the use of boundaries. Rather, this essay desires to liberate those captive to a performance mentality, as well as foster an understanding of why we create boundaries and ensure protective measures, and offer a conclusion that perhaps veers around certain established, and, in my opinion, ineffective, constructs.

What Signifies a Performance Mentality?

Earlier, less severe cases present as sensations of anguish and shame over sinful acts committed that are distinct from the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Achievement consoles, soothes, and balms the aching, festering wound of failure.

The worst manifestations produce self-hatred, complete despair, and utter hopelessness for personal reform or inner renewal upon failure. Yet, these symptoms remain hidden, closed off, and shut away from the outside world, for the heart whirs and hums unnoticed to the rhythm of pride. Pride, as the engine of being, establishes superiority and inferiority among relationships and within groups. The individual plagued by such a condition aims to assert dominance or authority on the grounds of personal achievement and a subsequently conflated view of self in order to further guise their failures and preserve the image they desire to convey to the world.

Albert Gelpi describes the harrowing consequences of the disease of egoism in the introduction to his book The Wild God of the World, a collection of Robinson Jeffers’ poetry. “Instead of engagement with and participation in the natural world, the egoist expends himself in “self-interference, self-frustration, self-incitement, self-worship” (Robinson Jeffers, Selected Poetry, 719-720). As a further consequence, his selfish contact with the other equally alienated men and women ends in violence and violation: physical, sexual, moral, spiritual” (Albert Gelpi, The Wild God of the World: An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers, 11).

How Do We Arrive at Safe-Guarding Behaviors?

Failure, especially when consecutive and consistent, prompts the establishment of preventative measures to ensure the avoidance of future failure. These include physical boundaries, self-imposed dogmatic regulations, and emotional walls that serve as barriers between an individual and that, or whom, which they loathe and fear. A fear of failure and the impending consequences for failure, as well as an insecurity over security, intensify the degree of severity of a given boundary.

The creation of boundaries bleeds self-preservation at the core, which rejects a love for others and a love for God. Self-preservation, which fears consequence, self-destruction or a destruction of self through interaction with others, signals a confidence in the performance of the self that starkly opposes a complete confidence in the performance of Jesus Christ.

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Jared Odenbeck

Jared Odenbeck is a professional soccer player from Charlotte, NC. Jared graduated from Wake Forest University in December 2016 with a degree in English and Journalism. His greatest desire for his writing is that it would awaken the western Church to pure Gospel-centered truth and recapture the essence of unadultered Christianity.

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