Love and Convictions
APRIL 10, 2019
How in the world can Christians love one another when we don’t agree on anything but Jesus, don’t think the same way, don’t look alike, or don’t share a common cultural and political understanding of the way things ought to be? And then how can we love one another without selling out our convictions?
The short answer is that Jesus makes everything else look small by comparison and if we can get that right, we can probably love one another and make room for our convictions. John Wesley said, “If your heart be as my heart, give me your hand.”
This struggle is only increasing. It’s true for all of us. It’s true whether you’re an old guy like me or a young one; you’re a Democrat or a Republican; you prefer “bubba” and Blues Brothers or Bach as worship music; you like Picasso or Kinkade; you’re a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution or an immigrant; you’re politically a liberal or a conservative; you get your clothes from Brooks Brothers or Walmart…and it goes on and on.
We just don’t agree on much anymore. The fragmentation of America (and the world)—where we once shared a common understanding of politics, religion and culture—has become the norm. Frankly, I hate it. It’s really bad.
No, actually, it’s really good. Do you know why? It gives us an opportunity to shine with a powerful witness of convictions and love. There is nothing more unusual and powerful in our time than that.
There are some specifics about love sleeping comfortably with convictions…
Love and convictions can’t go together without repentance.
What the prophetess said to the king in 2 Kings 22:18-19 is a major theme in Scripture: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord…I have heard you.” The Psalmist said that God was close to those with a broken heart of repentance (Psalm 34). Jesus said that the kingdom of God was present when he came and that the appropriate response was repentance (Matthew 3:2). Jesus also said that he had come to call sinners (that would be us) to repentance, not the righteous (Mathew 9:13). It’s everywhere in Scripture.
Jack Miller said that the only people in the Body of Christ who have anything to say are those who are repentant and the most repentant people in the church should be its leaders.
Repentance is an attitude more than an act—an attitude of recognition that God is God, he is always right in his judgments, and we are subject to that judgment throughout our lives. It’s hard to have that attitude, know who you are and who he is, and pull a trigger on someone who is different than you. It’s an attitude that one can be wrong as well as sinful.
Love and convictions can’t go together without the recognition that Jesus has made some weird choices in those he has chosen to love…and we are among the weirder.
Paul said to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:15): “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
Our message is not a political or a cultural one. Our message is always that of a needy and forgiven sinner telling other needy sinners that Jesus saves, loves and forgives sinners of whom we are the foremost. That’s the main thing and everything else is secondary.
Freedom to Speak Truth
Love and convictions can go together when we are free to speak our truth.
That freedom comes with repentance before God and love from God. Our fear keeps us from speaking our truth because we want to be acceptable, valued and affirmed. If you seek that from people, you’ll agree with everything people in power say and cave in the face of differences. We dare not get that from anybody but Jesus. Jesus accepts me whether or not you do. When he bought me with his blood, Jesus placed a very high value on me and that value is all that counts whether or not you value me. Jesus likes me big and affirms me whether or not you like and affirm me.
When I remember that—and I do sometimes—I’m dangerous. When I forget that—and I do sometimes—my convictions don’t get spoken, I become an “echo” of the tastes and convictions of others, and Jesus blushes.
So don’t shilly-shally. And I won’t either.