LIVING WITH CONVICTIONS

LIVING WITH CONVICTIONS

On the morning of April 20, 1999, 16-year old Cassie Bernall, a student at Columbine High School (USA) wrote a note to her friend, Amanda Meyer, which said this: “Honestly, I totally want to live my life completely for God. It’s hard and scary, but totally worth it!” What she did not know was that the genuineness of her expressed desire was going to be severely tested later that same day. With a gun pointed to her head, a gunman asked, “Do you believe in God?” She said “yes” and the next thing was Kabooooom! She was shot to death. [1]

C. S. Lewis once noted that you never know how much you believe a thing until it becomes a matter of life and death. You see, conviction is what makes a person not cower when his beliefs are being tested. Real Christian conviction goes beyond having personal preference for the Christian gospel. It goes deeper than a personal opinion. Having conviction is when you are so thoroughly convinced that something is absolutely true that you take a stand for it regardless of the consequences. Are you really convinced about Christ and his teachings or are you only wishing they were true? If you are not sure if the Christian message is really true, are you making the effort to find out? To be a Christian fit for Christ’s Kingdom, you must have convictions – convictions about Christ, about the ultimate Truth. Christianity is about truth, about reality as it really is. The gospel is not just to help us through life, it is really true and until you come to this conclusion, it will be very difficult to have genuine Christian convictions.

Conviction is what makes a person not cower when his beliefs are being tested. Real Christian conviction goes beyond having personal preference for the Christian gospel. It goes deeper than a personal opinion.

For most Christians today, the test of our beliefs does not need to be stretched to the point of “life or death” for us to deny our beliefs. All we need is the threat of a little “heat,” a little discomfort, and we are willing to deny, bend, amend or alter the claims and teachings of Christ and his apostles.

A few weeks ago I engaged two young people in a chat regarding the Christian teaching of Salvation. They appeared to agree that it is through Jesus Christ alone that a person gains salvation from God. So I asked them what they thought then of other religions. After a short period of thinking, they said something to the effect that, different people have different ways of worshiping God. I probed further by asking them whether they actually believed that the gospel of Jesus Christ was true or they were only hoping and wishing it to be true. (There are people in the world today who think that believing something to be true is what makes it true thus making truth something that is subjective). Both of them, without hesitation, said they believed it was objectively true. At this, I reminded them that Jesus claimed to be the only way to God. They agreed. Then I pointed out to them that if Jesus’ claim is true then all other religions must be false by default on the issue of salvation, since they don’t accept this claim of Jesus. From the look on their faces, I could tell that what I just said had switched on a light. Apparently, they had not really given this issue much thought.

The moment you become convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel message, you want to tell others about it and not only that but you also want to live for this truth.

I went further to explain the situation a person falls into when he/she comes to the realization that it is really true that Jesus is the only way to God: I told them to imagine they were in school and a few minutes away from writing a mathematics exam and that they had found themselves with a group of friends trying to solve a particular math problem. As a group they managed to arrive at an answer. But then after they (as individuals) left the group to study on their own they noticed an error made during the process of calculating the final answer. So then they correct the error and whooaaaa, they arrive at a different answer. I asked them, “What would you do as someone who is concerned about how well your friends fared on the exams?” The answer was clear: You would quickly go to your friends and prompt them about the error so that they can also correct the answer previously arrived at. And I said it is the same for the Christian. The moment you become convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel message, you want to tell others about it and not only that but you also want to live for this truth.

This was the case of Cassie Bernall who was shot dead. She had convictions. She was only a teenager, yes, but She knew what she believed, or better still, in whom she had believed. It is this kind of convinced, committed belief in Christ and his gospel that every professing Christian is challenged to pursue. Jesus says,

“If a person is ashamed of me and my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

– Mark 8:38, GNB

The Apostle Paul was convinced about Christ and his teaching. He really knew the resurrected Christ and had faith in him. He was stoned and left for dead, he was given lashes, he was imprisoned and eventually beheaded. While alive and enduring suffering he declared in letter to young Timothy,

“…But I am still full of confidence, because I know whom I have trusted, and I am sure that he is able to keep safe until that Day what he has entrusted to me.”

– 1 Timothy 1:12, GNB.

Do you know Jesus to this degree of commitment? Are you living with convictions about Jesus Christ and his teachings? Are you so convinced that the Christian message is absolutely true to the point that you are willing to take a stand for it regardless of the consequences?

Notes

[1] For more details on the Columbine high school shooting stories see, Beyond Belief to Convictions, 2002, Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler, Tyndale House Publishers Inc., p. 23.

Robert G. Coleman
Robert G. Coleman

Robert G. Coleman is the President of SimplyChrist Ministry, a Christian Apol­ogetics group based in Ghana, and the author of  Why don’t I feel my faith?
Connect with him via rgcoleman.wordpress.com

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