“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
Is your faith defined by convenience or conviction? It’s the difference between having boundaries and living without them. In his book Not a Fan, Pastor Kyle Idleman helps readers determine their real relationship with Jesus. Am I a follower of Christ, or just a fan? Followers are led by convictions deeply rooted in their faith from the standard of God’s Word and the life of Jesus. Fans are led by convenience. When it’s convenient, I’ll follow Christ; but, the moment it begins to cost me, I’m out. In the 1700’s, Isaac Watts must have considered what defined his faith when he wrote these convicting words to a hymn while working on a sermon.
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Conviction refuses to copy the standards of the world around us vacillating with a changing culture. Instead, as Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, conviction fixes our attention on God. As we do, we’re changed from the inside out! I love that phrase in this passage.
Conviction is not conformity. Religion stresses conformity, trying to change us from the outside. But a relationship with Jesus is intimate and personal. His presence within us makes all the difference in how we relate to the world around us. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, conviction allows God to bring out the best in you as you grow in Christ, developing well-formed maturity in you!