Strengthening Core Relationships / Day 4

BIBLE READING

Ephesians 4: 4-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Romans 8: 31-39

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

REFLECTION

I was once a participant on a course which was a requirement for anyone being considered for a teaching role in a particular church. The final stage involved preaching in front of, and being interviewed by, the elders. One of the questions they asked stands out above all others: "What beliefs would you be willing to die for?" How would you answer that? What do you believe so strongly that you simply couldn't budge or compromise on it?  

To have conviction is to be completely convinced of something. It is a deep persuasion that something is right, and must be done. The greatest leaders in history have been men and women of unshakable conviction. Conviction brings with it passion, perseverance and a willingness to pay the price to see your belief become a reality. Albert Mohler says this: "The leadership that really matters is all about conviction. The leader is rightly concerned with everything from strategy and vision to teambuilding, motivation, and delegation, but at the center of the true leader’s heart and mind you will find convictions that drive and determine everything else."

We live in a world where popularity and convenience are more important than conviction.  It's become commonplace for people to separate belief and behaviour. Politicians overpromise on important issues to win votes and then change their positions when expediency requires; we remain silent in the work cafeteria when a discussion takes place around an important issue because we want to avoid conflict or simply have a quiet life; we go along with small moral compromises rather than risk the confrontation that taking a stance against wrongdoing might provoke. Genuine conviction will always show itself in conduct and character. 

Conviction is not something that someone else can give you. It must come from within. Another person's convictions can't simply become your own because they haven't been distilled through your own mind and heart.  

The Apostle Paul was driven by deep convictions. He was convinced by the goodness of God because he had experienced it to be true: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8: 38-39)  

Elsewhere he expresses other convictions:

"I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself." (Rom 14: 14)

"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all die." (2 Cor 5: 14)

"...I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day." (2 Tim 1: 12)

"...continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of..." (2 Tim 3: 14)

Notice in the final verse, Paul differentiates between what we know and what we are convinced of. Over time their head knowledge has become heart conviction.  

When we are getting into relationships, it's so important that we ask of the other person: "What are they convinced about at their core?" Don't be deceived by those who will say what you want to hear or who don't really feel passionate about anything. Look for those who have convictions and who won't be swayed by the winds and whims of culture. Elizabeth Gaskill expressed her conviction so well when she said: “What other people may think of the rightness or wrongness is nothing in comparison to my own deep knowledge, my innate conviction that it was wrong.” 

Our convictions shape our lives, determine our commitments, strengthen us when facing opposition and sustain us through crises. They help us decide what battles are worth fighting and when it is prudent to walk away. Abraham Kuyper said this: “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”