I think there is a difference between existing while we put on a show, and living every day as a willing participant of God’ production. God is not so much about how things look, as how things are.
I lived so much of my life concerned with nothing other than making a good impression with everyone (including God) and rejoicing in my own ability to avoid correction or critique. I worked double-time just to negate any reason anyone might have for making anything but a positive judgment about me. Being liked and feeling that I was perfect were my highest priorities.
The term legalistic was something that haunted me. Acknowledging that one word, and all it’s meaning, forced me to call into question all my hidden motivations and desires for holding onto personal perfection. I touted who I was as my saving-grace, and wondered why I was so unable to accept God’s grace.
Truthfully, I didn’t want grace — I wanted recognition and reward for who I was and what benefit I could bring to others on my own. But, the truth that I could not recognize then, and am still in the middle of struggling with now, is that grace is a gift from God that I don’t deserve. It came to release me from the bondage of living for myself, dependent on myself. I can’t live that way; it is an exercise in futility. The only reward I can count on from it is condemnation.
Yes, it’s scary when Christ turns me around to His perspective. I see that all the “righteous” acts that I have done, have not been for anyone’s glory but mine. I have not wanted to be righteous for the sake of being righteous — as I thought — but so that I could have no trouble being perceived righteous. Perfection was a goal not because I loved God and wanted to be like Him, but because I loved men and their praise more than the praise of God. God could think whatever He wanted, as far as I was concerned, but my world would be shattered if the people around me found a problem with me.
So, the whole idea was really a sinly-scheme. I did not love God for His willingness to deal with who I am on the inside, I was merely interested in keeping up my facade, and using His laws to get me there. I thought.
But, isn’t rightness and a fault-less appearance the result of what is on the inside shining forth? The only way we may obtain righteousness in God’s sight is by receiving the righteousness of Christ, who died the death our sin’s required, that we might be accepted by God.