I’ve debated this post for days, because responsibility. I feel it with every word I write, every word I speak, the way I conduct myself (and especially when I fail). I’m positive it’s the way believers in Jesus Christ should all feel, since we have aligned ourselves to the Greatest. He deserves us to not act like straight up fools.
Also: time is helpful. Sorting through things is helpful. Jesus didn’t jump and spout off when things happened. He prayed. He considered. And in some cases, He never said a word.
Real talk: I wanted to be in that never says a word camp because to be honest, I don’t like yelling over people to be heard. But today, I am convicted. And that is the message of this post and my life bottom line.
I cannot change my conviction for you.
You, friend. You, family. You, courts. You, any human person. I can’t.
At first, this might make you mad or want to disengage from me. I get that. When we have something we feel strongly about, the human tendency is to want to find someone who agrees and huddle up close. But if you’ll give it a second, deep down, maybe you don’t really want me to. Because there is something about a person who lives by what they believe and won’t waver no matter what that has our respect. (Since much of our world sticks to zero.)
(Keyword: lives. Not shouts over people or waves big banners, although yes, there are times shouting and waving should happen (but probably a lot less). Convictions are meant to be lived. Solid, unwavering, no matter what, so that people know, spoken or not: this is where this person stands. When you see a person consistently standing in the same place, you know where to find them. (Baptist people humor: remember that person who always sat on the 5th row? Remember the time a newbie to the church tried to take their seat? LAWD.)
Now. In the best way I know how, in this post, today, here’s my why about convictions. For the recent decision by the courts on gay marriage I grieve over and disagree with. For the future decisions down the road to come, so you will know why even though I love you, will treat you with kindness and respect, and find you as a creation of God amazing and worthy, I won’t change my convictions for you.
Warning: I’m about to get down and dirty real.
1) Convictions are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they are the best thing that has ever happened to the Church.
Truth: A lot of Christians are freaking out right now, asking things like: what is the world coming to and how will we survive and will our kids be ok and why is the Church so divided? And these aren’t horrible questions, at the core, and by the way, Jesus is never afraid of any of them because He is the answer, always, duh.
But many times, they aren’t really questions. They are symptoms of our panic. We who are not sure know deep down we are soft and ill-prepared for giving answers, ourselves, for what we believe and why and it freaks us out. We can’t ignore the serious stuff anymore by playing church, and for many of us, this is a problem because playing church has been our jam.
Listen, I’m excited. Because it’s time. We who say we are followers of Jesus Christ have hid behind inspirational quotes and Christian labels long enough. We have added God on as the p.s. of our lives and lived God-ish rather than Godly. We haven’t been eager to show our hand. Now, our hand is being forced and it’s going to be about exposure of beliefs and convictions. And we who are not willing to talk about them because we are afraid of losing book sales or church members or friends or anyone will expose our character in that choice. (and I believe, cause greater heartache for ourselves and our churches down the road) This time in life is calling believers out of hiding, showing who, at the core, is just about Jesus and who, at the core, is about preserving self…which is a contrary goal. And this is healthy, friends. This is not freak-out worthy. This is necessary and needed.
This, by the way, will scare Christians with a lazy faith. It will excite those who accept it is the genius of God to take away smokescreens and coverings and cause the Church to finally put our money where our mouth is.
2) Convictions that stick are the ones that come from God, not out of human reaction.
Reactions to injustices and other people’s fights that are influenced to then become ours will last only so long. Eventually, someone else will sway us to go their way or we will tire of fighting. Yes, we can spend our whole lives fighting for things and die with them, too, even if they are wrong, because humans are stubborn and egotistical that way. But most of us aren’t that dedicated or strong. Only God can cement His things inside us. Only He is big enough to convince us for the long haul in a way that we won’t be worn down.
And yes, the world’s issues will always have the Church divided to a degree because, hello, different personalities, different perspectives, different backgrounds and places of damage which equals a different lens. Most of us can’t agree on whether we like mustard or mayonnaise better, so why should we think on other, bigger topics that come up we will all agree? (And yes, too, in case you haven’t noticed: we interpret the Bible differently often based on these same things.) But this doesn’t scare me.
Some of us will fight for things because we fight against wrongs we can’t shake that have turned us into vigilantes. This can be powerful and good but even in this we must be careful that the convictions don’t come from self things like personal baggage instead of God things like purity. Holiness and spreading the Gospel are God things, not human cravings for justice or personal freedom outside of Him.
Convictions are crazy glue times a thousand. They are teflon. They keep me firm when I make an unpopular choice, even when that unpopular choice makes me cry or feel rejected. They help a kid not have sex before marriage in a serious dating relationship even when so many others are…because, convictions. They help a spouse to stay faithful to marriage when the sparks don’t still fly…keep me treating people with respect, even when I firmly disagree with their convictions, because love = a conviction. When we lapse on our convictions (as humans can do), we lapse on Godliness. That’s a serious deal.
3) Convictions trump feelings.
This is a really good thing because feelings can be so very strong and sometimes we feel like a slave to them. But convictions are stronger, so they always win. They trump the need to be popular or go with the crowd. They are the absolutes that govern life and if we don’t have absolutes, what do we have? We become wisps and drifters, and wisps and drifters all about their feelings don’t help anyone. They just drift and feel and people don’t even see them when they wisp by.
Perhaps if Christians were more about convictions than feelings, people would take notice and be drawn to our Jesus.
Perhaps if Christians lived by our convictions rather than felt like we had to convince other people to adopt ours, we would have better success with influence.
100 people living their convictions are more powerful than a million trying to strong arm people into the Gospel.
And by the way…to my friend who doesn’t agree with my convictions, trust me: you may not agree with me, but my convictions may be to your best interest.
~I have two friends I dearly love, but neither likes the other. My conviction to stay a faithful friend to each of them despite their conflict has shown them I can be trusted as a friend to them. They don’t try to sway me from the other. They accept my conviction and respect it. Only my conviction has helped me be able to maneuver this tough spot. Conviction before feelings.
~I’ve been wronged and wanted so desperately to speak out publicly, especially on social media. But my conviction to not mark another person or church or ministry because I want to honor God more has kept me from it. People may not agree. But my conviction keeps me trusting in God to (in the now or in the later) make all wrong things right. I know, with firm confidence, He will. People know I won’t throw them under the bus to help myself feel better. Conviction before feelings.
Maybe you don’t agree with my particular conviction. And maybe you believe I’m behind the times or being too strict or not being loving (which, I’ll be honest, is a bit of a worn out rhetoric, though yes, some Christians still need to get it together with this). But at the end of the day, you have to know that in the same way I can’t change my conviction for you, I won’t change my conviction about how I love you, either. And isn’t that just the best?
4) Convictions won’t change. But other things can.
Good news. Though my convictions won’t change, the things you might really prefer me to change are these (and cue the party music…I can!):
~my attitude towards you.
~my response to you.
~my heart for you.
~my understanding of you.
I can be a better listener. I can be a more faithful friend. The pliability of my heart can change because I can ask God to soften it and He is the heart softening Master.
So. This is a win. Living by convictions is a win. Jesus is a win.
And if you ever wonder what I’ll be busy preaching about? It will be Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. It won’t be against you.
And in my personal moments I will be busy studying about holiness without pride, learning to live pure and loving, with the Word of God driving my life and my conviction, praying prayers like this:
God, help us all. We just need You.
Amen and amen.
(*No discussion needed. If you love this post, share it. If you don’t, don’t. Regardless, and I mean this: I LOVE YOU.)