(not) sharing convictions

I’m going to talk about myself for a minute.

I’m a twenty-six year old blond-haired blue-eyed girl who has been blessed with wonderful genes.  I’m naturally thin, I have a great metabolism, I’m generally healthy and energetic.  I do have a strong conviction that part of my obedience to God is taking care of my body, so I try to watch what I eat and exercise regularly.  I am, in fact, the kind of freak who gets a little crazy if she doesn’t get a workout in.

I’m telling you all of this in the purpose of illustrating a point, not bragging.  So, following that, let’s assume that I have friends who are overweight and generally not as healthy as me.  Let’s assume that at least some of those friends are Christians.  Let’s say that I took what I feel as a very strong conviction (that God wants me to be healthy, and caring for my body is Worshipping Him in that regard) and applied it to my friends.

I can imagine a conversation like this:

ME:  Friend A, why aren’t you worshipping God?

A:  excuse me?

ME:  You’re kind of… fat.  That’s an affront to God and His will for your life.

A:  Says who?  You?

ME:  Well, I’ve had these personal struggles with body identity, and I’ve heard God’s voice really strongly in this area.

A: You are totally bent.

ME: You’re rejecting God’s word for you.

A:  Yeah, sweetie, I’m rejecting YOUR word for me.

And in this totally imaginary conversation, I’d actually take Friend A’s side.  Why?  Because who knows what is going on in her life.  Maybe she’s been struggling for years with some other sin, and is desperately trying to lead a life pleasing to God.  And by coming out of left field with a commandment that I do NOT know is meant for A, I could cause her incredible frustration and maybe even a loss of faith.

Which is why I keep my convictions to myself.  Because not every girl on this planet is a blond-haired blue-eyed genetically blessed fitness nut.  And I don’t think that every one was meant to be, either, or else God would have made us a little more alike.  By following God’s heart for my own life I worship him, just as by following God’s word for YOUR life YOU worship him.  And I may be called to be a wife and mother and writer and yoga fanatic, and you may be called to be something very different.  And part of God’s will for you may even be that you don’t get stir crazy if you miss your morning Pilates or that you do indulge in a few extra brownies from time to time.

I think God enjoys our uniqueness.  I think that he loves the fact that we are so different.  I think he designed it that way for a reason.  I don’t think he wants us to be able to write down our personal revelations and mass market them and take the mystery and excitement out of seeking his will.  He wants us to each be completely devoted, hearing his voice, changing ourselves.

He really does not want me to corner Friend A and accuse her of not loving him- I can promise you that.

Trusting God to Convict

“But if someone you love is living in Sin, shouldn’t you hold them accountable?”

This argument is most often used against homosexuals- but it applies to all kind of sins.  My answer to the above question is both yes, and no.  Yes- if someone you love is living in sin, it should matter to you.  And you should talk to them about your concerns.  But you should never do it in a “you must change or ELSE” tone, you should do it in an “I worry what the consequences of this could be for you because I love you” tone, and then you should let go.

Let GO, and trust God to do the rest.

Let’s look at this simply:

  • All sin goes contrary to God’s desires for our lives.  God wishes to move us into a less sinful state.
  • If someone loves God and wishes to have a relationship with God, and they open their heart towards God they will hear God speaking to them.
  • If God is speaking to someone who is in a sinful state, God will inevitably pull them towards a less sinful state so they can know him more fully.

Thus, if God is desirous of someone leaving a homosexual lifestyle, and this person is devoted towards God and allowing themselves to be pulled by him, eventually he WILL speak to them about their lifestyle.  By this point I would assume that you, reader, if you are concerned about their choices, will have already told them your opinion.

At this point they can choose to have you be the one to hold them accountable.  And at this point there may be real, solid consequences for them choosing to remain in something which God has asked them to leave.

But it can’t go the other way.  Conviction HAS to come from God, it can’t come from people.  Let me tell you a story.  For most of my marriage there was a behavior pattern towards me from my husband that I felt was sinful.  And for most of my marriage (six years) I would confront my husband, he would get defensive, and we’d eventually start arguing about who was the better spouse.  Stalemate.  Useless.  About a year ago I started to feel convicted about my judgmental attitude towards my spouse.  Now, let’s be clear, this pattern in his behavior towards me was ABSOLUTELY wrong and ABSOLUTELY contrary to what God wanted towards our marriage, but God VERY clearly told me to shut up about it and to work on my own heart.  So I did.  And after several months of struggling and me holding my tongue, God convicted my husband.

God was never going to let me get away with doing his job.  It may have been right for me to say, “I’m concerned about the consequences this may have on our marriage”, but it was absolutely wrong for me to try to force my husband to change.  But when God brought the conviction, change happened almost instantly.

That’s why we need to trust God.  Should we let people know when we are concerned for them?  Absolutely.  But we should absolutely not hand out ultimatums unless it is about a behavior that someone has asked us to help them change, or we are in a position of authority where it is our responsibility to protect the body at large.

Trust God.

Offer the situation up to him.

Pray for the body of believers.

Exhort what is good.

Guard your own hearts.

This is the path to righteousness.

Wheat and Weeds

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “

Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

-Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In the parable above, the wheat is growing up with the weeds. The owner tells the servant not to pull the weeds up because they may root up the wheat with them. When we exclude these people with overt, outward sins from the church we risk rooting up good wheat because of the weeds growing up with them. We all have our weeds. Some are just more outward and obvious than others. How horrible would it be to root up and destroy someone who may end up becoming a powerful force for Christ in the world just because they were homosexual, a teenage mother, divorced, or have any number of other outward sins?

There was an unmarried couple who were living together attending the church of a friend of mine. The pastor struggled throughout the premarital counseling process with wanting to approach the couple about their living situation, but felt God saying that he shouldn’t. It turns out that the man in the relationship had decided that if the pastor said anything about them living together he was done with the church. About two weeks before the wedding the couple felt convicted about their living/sexual situation and they chose to live separately until the wedding. Now they are both very committed Christians and very involved in that church. If the pastor would have confronted them they would have either never gone to church again or not gone for a long time (never underestimate God’s ability to find people!).

Excluding these people from the church betrays a real lack of faith and trust in God. It’s a way to retain control while acting pious and “holy.” We need to repent of trying to retain that control instead of giving all of ourselves to God.

The above was written by my husband, who follows my blog but rarely comments.  He told me I could post it here or he may post it on his own blog.  I thought that my readers my find it illuminating.  Because the point isn’t saying that sin ceases to be sin- the point is saying that if something truly is sin for someone, God will convict them.  God will do so in his own way in his own time, and we need to trust God for that.

Believe in the Lord of the Harvest.