A couple days ago I came back from the conference in Holland called Opwekking where I was with students from Southport Master's Commission. For those who don't know, that's where I am privileged to work.
Anywho, more than any other time I went to Opwekking, this time I came back with a whole load of thoughts, new dreams, things to pray about.
And as the days were passing by I felt the need to write this note about our convictions.
I don't know much about Dutch people but what I do see is that they are visionary people. I walk into Opwekking and I see people working with passion, people who love Jesus, and people who have their own convictions. Don't know why in Holland and not in England where I live at the moment, but while being there it was very visible to me that we all live according to our own convictions. I saw the difference between people. Our team has people from many different countries so each day we taste each others differences.
The point of this note is: how strong are they?
We are being raised by whoever it may be who takes care of us. That person, or those people, will pour their convictions into our heads, whether they're good or bad. The Bible says 'Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
It is hard to grow out of negatives poured into those who's environment had a lot of bad influence on them.
But as adults we can no longer excuse ourselves. As adults we either live up to those convictions or make our own.
Here: how do you know whether your convictions are good or bad? Have you ever considered that you could actually be... wrong??
In my life I have met some very judgmental people. We all know at least one of them. He looks at you and you feel that 'o' big. Whatever people around him do, is never good enough. He will even tell a pastor off. He will correct the preaching on a Sunday morning. He will leave the church cause he doesn't like the worship. He will excuse himself from anything, living in his own small, perfect world. Anything unclean? Let's cut it out.
You may be thinking 'well I do happen to judge people but I'm not THAT bad'.
Tell me, what kind of judgment and hypocrisy is acceptable before the Lord?
Do you think that God will judge your neighbor according to YOUR convictions?
Imagine this: Gary is a guy you've known for ages. You've seen him come to Christ and you've seen him slide. Even tho you yourself have been going through hardships as well, yours of course weren't as bad as HIS. What shocks you even more is that Gary still smokes. He's been calling himself a Christian for years, right? And he smokes? Ridiculous. So one day Gary dies. Whatever cause. Bitten by a horse. He stands before the Lord and God says: 'well, I do know you love me and I do know you've been praying, serving others, been hardworking and selfless, but your neighbor here, Julie, has a very strong conviction that because you smoke you have to go to hell. So... I was gonna take you in to Heaven as my beloved Son, but Julie's been complaining to Me about you so much that I can't let you in. Sorry.'
Do you get my point yet?
I am not trying to excuse people who smoke here. No. I think it kills your body so it's bad for you. But that's not the point.
This example could be about Gary the farmer not going to church every Sunday.
But I chose smoking, because it's an addiction and everyone has their own say about it.
Here is a feisty passage:
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil.
What are your thoughts? I'd love to know them.
There could be a book written about this passage.
But the main point that I get out of this is that we need to act in love.
Paul said in the above passage that nothing is unclean in itself. It's the way we use it. The way we abuse it. Also, it's about how we view things. We judge others for what they do, because we wouldn't do that. If someone smokes as a Christian we may judge them because smoking is unclean to us. Would you?
It's not about what we do tho, whether we have a problem with smoking, gossiping, cussing or eating too much chocolate. It's about our attitude and the conviction of our heart. I'm going very deep here and I don't want to get into the kind of discussion where my conviction is upsetting others so they'd feel obliged to 'tell me off'. Hey there, fellow hypocrites!
We all have our own convictions. The church is full of imperfect people and we live encouraging and tearing each others down. All.the.time.
I think that each and every one of us is, was or has a little bit of hypocrisy in them. I still half of the time don't even live up to my own convictions so I guess that makes me a hypocrite. And as long as we sin... well.. we are it.
So in conclusion:
I guess what I'm trying to say is be careful how you lead your life- people watch you. You're an example to some.
Be careful with judging. Don't pretend you don't sin.
And, if what you do upsets others, do you think they are all wrong or are you the one who may need to make some changes?
This note is not about smokers. I love you all just as much as I love my friend who overdoses on chocolate.
But: whoever you are reading this note, I bet you money that in your life there is something that needs working on. How do I know? Cause you're not Jesus.
Think about it and about the way you view others before you judge anyone else. Think of the things you excuse yourself from.
What is it that you need?
Repentance? Apologies to your neighbor, friend, enemy, a family member?
Is there anyone you have been constantly hurting by your judgment? And while doing that, have you ever thought that maybe they don't know how to give up that thing because everyone judges them instead of lending them a helping hand?
Remember, you may be wrong.
We may all be wrong.