Your Christianity Needs a "Tweak"

Well, it didn’t end the way we had hoped, but what a ride. Frustrations aside, this was one of the greatest stories of transformation college basketball has ever seen. A few weeks ago this team was dead and destined to be the biggest disappointment in KY Basketball history. Then out of nowhere, a new and incredible story was written.

What happened? The tweak happened.

Nobody is entirely sure what the tweak was, but whatever it was, it worked. From the moment Coach Cal mentioned the word, we were witnesses to an entirely new team. And nowhere was the transformation more obvious than with the Harrison Twins.

Aaron and Andrew Harrison came to town shouldering the impossible and unfair expectations of the Big Blue Nation, and you could tell. Their often-scrutinized body language only testified that these two young men were crumbling under the pressures.

But then it happened.

Almost overnight, fearful play gave way to poised play; uncertainty turned into confidence; the young men who looked like they were just trying to survive basketball were now enjoying basketball. And results followed the transformation, most notably the three—not one, not two, but three—colossal game-winning shots by Aaron Harrison.

And all this from a “tweak”. Again, nobody knows exactly what the tweak was, but I’ll share my admittedly uninformed theory.

Just before the SEC tournament, I read this fascinating article that didn’t get as much attention as I think it deserved. The Harrison’s father flew to Lexington to spend some time with his sons. Evidently, he saw what everyone could see—his sons were wilting under the pressure. In his own words, he said he could tell his boys were “tense.”

So he came to town, not to correct or instruct but to reassure. He wanted them to know everything is okay. They are loved, they don’t have to perform, they are allowed to fail, they don’t have to go to the NBA this year, or the next, or the next, or even ever. And after their father’s reassurance, things were different.

Could it be that the tweak that gave us one of the most memorable stories in the history of KY basketball was something as simple as a father sitting on a dorm room bed reminding his sons that they are loved no matter what? Apparently so.

Andrew Harrison said this about his father’s words, “It helped me take a deep breath and relax.”

There is a world of difference between performing to be accepted and performing knowing you are accepted. Once they realized that they were loved apart from their excellence, they were then set free to become excellent.

I read that article and couldn’t resist applying it to the Christian journey. There is no denying that Christianity comes with enormous goals and expectations.  In fact, the Apostle Paul compares it to competing in the Olympic games (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). But it matters how we approach these expectations.

If meeting these expectations is required to earn the acceptance of God, then Christianity will quickly become a burdened, stressful, fearful, and joyless endeavor that is sure to prove unfruitful. If we have to perform for God, then in the end, we won’t. Instead, we will begin to resent God as a cruel taskmaster with relentless expectations, will have no desire to please Him, and will instead rebel.

But if we embrace what the Bible has to say to us—that we are loved and accepted not based upon our performance but based upon our Savior—then we will be set free to obey. If we know that neither our successes nor our failures will change our status as the favored of God, then we will delight to do what our God expects. Even our worst failures will become fresh reminders of God’s boundless grace and commitment, and honoring our God will become our joyful ambition.

Tim Keller often says that “We do not obey to be accepted by God; we are accepted by God therefore we obey.”

Embracing that truth could very well be the “tweak” you desperately need.

Do feel pressure in Christianity? Are your days marked by guilt? Are you constantly insecure about where you stand before God? Do you feel better on the days you perform well and dejected on the days you fail?

If so, something is off.

You need the assurance of your Heavenly Father. You need Him to tell you again that everything is okay. You don’t have to perform; Christ has performed.  You’re allowed to fail; Christ died for failures.

Christian, relax. All is well. It truly is. Take in a deep breath of God’s favor, and go enjoy the thrilling journey of Christianity.

Rev. Robert Cunningham