I’m a guy with strong convictions. I think things through and arrive at conclusions I can fight for, and I enjoy fighting for them. This may be wrong or mean, but I think people without convictions usually have emotional or social baggage that prevent them from developing the psychological and relational capacity to commit.
Convictions, however, are dangerous. Our convictions become part of our identity. You can’t call yourself a “Calvinist” or “pacifist” or “conservative” or “Muslim” without these labels penetrating your sense of self. And we protect whatever becomes attached to our definition of “me.” Our convictions become objects of faith rather than pointers to the only One to whom our faith should be directed. Convictions are especially dangerous when we believe we can justifiably back them with the support of God. In short, they become idols.
Take Galatians. Paul’s opponents in Galatia were certain about what we could call their “four spiritual laws”:
- God had chosen them as his people.
- They were called to live different than the world around them.
- This differentness was defined as faithfulness to God’s will as revealed in their Bibles.
- Those who called themselves “God’s people” but deviated from this path were compromisers who needed to step up their faith.
Kind of hard to argue with that list, so it’s surprising that Paul called their beliefs a non-gospel that set them on a sure course straight to hell. But he did.
Why? Because their convictions prevented them from being revolutionized by Jesus.
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NOTE: In light of my 30th birthday and in honor of the guys who have all the fun, I’ll be offering thirty reflections in thirty days starting December 19th. Today’s post is #25 (see the so-far list here). The only rule is that I have 250 words to make my point. After that just stop reading. Thanks for making my blog part of your internet experience.