Living My Convictions

What I'm thinking about this morning is living out my convictions.  (Key verse, be prepared with an answer when questioned about our faith 1 Peter 3:15-16).  We live in a world where we are dealing with social and political issues that are unparalleled in American history.  What do I mean?  Marriage, divorce, homosexuality, abortion.  these are big issues that we are grappling with that my parents - 20-30 years ago - didn't have to deal with on the scale we are today.  Were these issues out there during these times?  Yes.  But not like it is today, when we have legalized gay/lesbian marriage and abortion.  It's easier to get a divorce today than it was 20-30 years ago.  Abortion wasn't in the news like it is today where we have government funded abortion clinics.  Marriage has always been under attack - even back in Biblical times!  Arguably not at the scale it is today.  Now what if we look even further back to when my grandparents were alive; 30-50 years ago.  My grandparents did't have to deal with these issues like we do today.  Again, were these things happening?  Yes, but not on the scale they are today.  Did my grandparents have to deal with homosexuality?  Yes, but it was not an accepted social practice like it is today.  Today it is accepted; you're even called a hero!

So, how do I as a Christian deal with these things?  How do I, as someone who believes God Word is exactly that - God's Word - deal with these social pressures?  I feel that I have to restrict myself.  I feel as though I have to exercise caution, that I don't want to say anything.  Why?  Because I'm afraid that I might offend someone.  I'm worried that if I comment then I am subjecting myself, and my family, to angry backlash.  Because either the person I'm talking to is impassioned toward the homosexual community or may even be homosexual or may know someone who is homosexual.  Or had an abortion.  Or has been through a divorce.  Has been raised in a broken, troubled family.  And yes - I even fear the legal retaliation.  This is a very real situation today, when you have legalized gay/lesbian marriage, abortion, divorce.  I read in the news of businesses that are refusing to sell goods and services to gay/lesbian couples and are being sued.  And the gay/lesbian couples are winning!  So there is a very real fear of legal ramification.  So how do I reconcile my conviction with these fears?

We put too much faith, trust and hope in our political leaders, government leaders, even our religious leaders.  The challenges that we're facing today in America - even the world - won't be solved by a democrat or republican.  These problems won't be solved by a police officer.  They won't be solved even by our religious leaders.  We as a congregation can look to our leaders to solve these issues for us.  "What should I do, Pastor?"  I'm not trying to be sarcastic here.  But what happened to seeking guidance from God?  What about asking God, "What should I do?"  Grab your Bible and look at it.  Repeat after me, "The truth is not out there.  The truth is in here!"

Now, back to living out my convictions.  How do I reconcile my convictions without doing it in fear or even anger?  I think back to the key verse, when asked...  So first, that carries the connotation that I am not to ram-rod my convictions onto someone else. Instead, I should be prepared to give a response when I am asked about my Christian hope.  I am troubled by people who pound their fist, or stand on the street corner, or use social media to push their convictions - their beliefs.  Don't misunderstand me. These are often well intentioned, Christian people who are trying to make a difference but they are often spawning anger.  Sometimes they themselves are even angry at the issues we are facing today and the people who are driving these issues.  This isn't the way to respond either.  The key verse goes on to say that when I respond I should  do this in a gentle and respectful way.

Often when I am challenged about my faith and convictions I can get defensive, frustrated and even angry.  Because the person I'm talking to is not listening.  But I shouldn't be fearful.  Because I do believe that God offers protection when we respond in the right way.  So, when I am asked about my faith I need to be prepared with an answer.  This is what's been on my mind this morning, How do I respond in a loving way?  Should I respond when asked?  Yes, I think I should as long I can respond in a loving way.  And if I can't respond in a loving way, maybe I need to wait until a better time.  A time when I'm not defensive and not prone to pounding my fist.

I see on the internet the recent debacle of Cecil the lion.  A popular, free-range lion with a rare black mane was recently poached by an American dentist.  Is this wrong?  Of course it's wrong to kill an animal only for sport - for the pure self gratification of sport.  This is a completely different discussion.  But can we kill an animal for food, or protection?  Of course!  My point is that this topic has gained momentum on social media so quickly because they say, "It's not right!  We shouldn't be killing animals for sport!"  Jimmy Kimmel, a popular late night talk show host, breaks out into tears over Cecil the lion being poached.  What about all these other issues we are struggling with?  Why aren't we breaking out into tears over these social and political issues we are facing?  Why are we not as animated over these issues as we are over Cecil the lion?  Maybe because being vocal over a poached lion is safe to talk about.  We don't have to fear the backlash.

I pray that God will help me put this topic into words that are kind and loving.  That God will help me to voice my convictions in love.

© HangNailed 2017