Ever wonder if you have enough faith? In a world filled with violence, political unrest, hunger, death and dying all around, do you wonder if you have what it takes to stand or would you rather run and, avoiding the places of our fear? Foundations of fear can be real or imagined and both elicit a response, a behavior. But as a child of the King of all Kings, if I had faith in that relationship, understanding by both observation and experience, the depth of his compassion and sacrificial love, would I live differently, more confident, from a place of conviction?
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not see.
Read that again… Faith is the assurance of the things hoped for and then the conviction of what you cannot see. Conviction implies behavior that is consistent with what is believed to be true. The example of sitting in a chair and trusting it will hold you is a simple but accurate. You see the chair, you’ve seen others of various sizes and shapes sit in the same chair, so you sit in the chair believing it will hold you. The thought process is assurance, the bending of the knees and lowering yourself into the chair is conviction. Thoughts and actions informed by beliefs.
Now think about the places you hope for something, maybe health or a cure for cancer, diabetics or other diseases. Maybe you hope to be in a different place, financially, physically or relationally. What does that look like? Does it look like whining, or complaining, fist shaking and blaming, running or hiding? If you really believe there can be a cure for deadly disease or you can be financially, relationally or physically in a different place, how would we act? What would you do? How would you behave?
I have an Uncle who has faith that a cure for Juvenile Diabetes is possible and he takes actions consistent with that hope. He spreads the word and encourages giving to research. His actions demonstrate his faith. Let’s move to a little more difficult topic. If I truly believe God is who he says, Jesus did what he did and accomplished my salvation, loves unconditionally, and accepts me as I am, how will that faith, that belief be demonstrated in conviction by my behavior? OR If I truly believe God is in control of this world, that He has a plan and is working it, how will that be evidenced in conviction and inform my behavior? Will I hide or will I stand? Will I be fearful or fearless?
Scripture supports this concept over and over in verses like these and many more:
And without faith it is impossible to please him (God), …… Hebrews 11:6
You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from you works and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:18 (He provides examples on either side of this scripture)
When Jesus in John 21:15-18 ask Peter three times ‘Do you love me?’ and Peter’s response is ‘Yes, you know I love you Lord.’ Jesus instructs him to an action, ‘Feed my sheep.’ Jesus is asking for a tangible demonstration that Peter’s words, beliefs and behaviors lineup, that he lives a life of conviction informed by his faith.
If I believe by faith that God is in control and I am forgiven for all eternity because of my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, these beliefs must inform my behavior, my conviction, they will drive out fear and I will and can stand in the face of all things and people who oppose that faith. Not with fist shaking and harsh words but like Jesus did. In Andy Stanley’s powerful and timely series ‘Tough as Nails’ ( http://northpoint.org/messages/tough-as-nails/) he addresses this subject with tremendous clarity. He says Jesus was not fragile but fearless. He walked into the politically charged environment that lead to the cross, surrendered to this humiliating death with conviction that his Father had a bigger plan for you and me. So we should stand with conviction by faith with love and compassion, willing to ‘stand down’ (as my friend Susan would say) to self and fear and stand up in love and service to a lost and dying world in need of a savior, whose image we reflect. I’ll leave you with this scripture to ponder your own faith, your convictions and how that looks to others in your world and spheres of influence.
II Corinthians 2:15
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saves and among those who are perishing.