Performance-Based Acceptance (PBA) is a mindset that was passed on to every human from Adam. Acceptance is the unconditional part of love. PBA is the false belief that performing good enough and/or long enough, can earn self-acceptance, other’s acceptance, and/or God’s acceptance. Acceptance causes me to believe I am good enough. It is a God-given need everyone possesses. It’s like the need for water. A person must have it so they will do whatever it takes to find it. Kids and teens may search for it in their grades, sports, singing, friends, or the number of likes on their Tik Tok posts. When kids and teens are not accepted by their peers, they feel deep rejection, often resulting in depression, anxiety, sadness, and more. Obviously, whether you are a kid, teen, or adult, the opposite of acceptance is rejection. Adults may hope for acceptance from their profession, position, peers, appearance, marital status, children, or relationships. PBA is also the source of a lot of miserable perfectionism and people-pleasing.
Every major religion is based on the desire to find acceptance from whatever god a person believes in. This is what sets authentic Christianity apart from all of these. God gives His unconditional acceptance to every person who is in Christ through faith as an act of His grace. God’s acceptance of you is a result of what He accomplished through Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, and seating. It is not based on what we accomplish.
There are many Christians who are like I was. They are true believers who have salvation and do not perform to get into heaven. Instead, they perform for God in hopes of getting His acceptance. This produced very negative consequences for me physically, emotionally, and relationally. I have found that I am not alone. These Christians usually haven’t been taught that being 100% righteous and forgiven in Christ makes them eternally acceptable to God. Once they know this and the Holy Spirit teaches it to them, they can begin resting from PBA.
Think about this with me. In Christ, you are currently seated at the right hand of God. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:5-6). This is only possible because He accepts you unconditionally. Here’s why. Sinners can’t sit there, only saints in Christ. Unforgiven people can’t sit there, only those forever forgiven in Christ. Unrighteous people can’t sit there, only righteous ones in Christ.
Once we are convinced God accepts us, we will be able to stop our PBA with God and over time with others and ourselves. Then you will be able to enjoy Acceptance-Based Performance. Knowing you are accepted by God frees you to perform, that is to trust Christ in you to obey and do the good works He put you on this earth to do. Ephesians 2:10 says it this way. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So, there are only two ways to get our need for acceptance met. One is to work to earn it which is exhausting because everyday day you must start all over. The other is to believe in Jesus’s finished work which is restful because every day we know our need is already met. Which one of these do you tend to find yourself doing?