A couple of weeks ago my pastor taught on making choices based on conviction vs. circumstances. It is something I’ve not stopped thinking about the sermon since then.
As students leave my office, friends leave my apartment, or as I part ways with people I jokingly tell them all “Make Good Choices!” It’s a phrase some of my friends wish would die a million deaths because they’ve heard it a million times. I, like everyone else, have made my fair share of bad choices; hence telling people to make good choices and reminding myself the same. The sermon from a few weeks ago has made me stop and think about the choices I’m making. “Is this one of circumstance or is this one of conviction”?
Over the past year I had the opportunity to work on a congressional campaign. The candidate was unlike any I’ve been around before. He wanted to run the most ethical campaign possible. He is Catholic and stands firm in his faith. This means that he would stand out among others in the party because he is pro-life in a pro-choice atmosphere. It means he chose not to take money from Political Action Committees (known as PACs and Super PACs). He stood firm in his convictions and wanted to make sure the campaign was run according to conviction.
While it made it a difficult race to win and even more difficult to lose (and lose we did), I think we all learned how important it is to not compromise conviction for circumstance. This candidate didn’t, but he did cause others to have to follow in his tracks. Others competing against him had to waive off PAC money in order to keep up. They had to make statements on health care that they may not have anticipated. They had to look at new issues that were new to them but plagued this particular candidate.
Running with conviction is hard. It’s not always the easiest choice, but in the end – win or lose – it’s the right choice. At the end of the campaign we didn’t sit around and say “we should have done this” or “what if …”. No. Because those things would have compromised the conviction of the candidate and the conviction of the campaign. I chose to work for this candidate because of his convictions. We lined up in so many areas. He Catholic, I Presbyterian. There were others on the campaign who would not have identified themselves as particularly religious or spiritual or believing in anything near what the candidate believes. They chose to work on the campaign because they saw the drive, they believed in the message, and they wanted to be part of that. Who doesn’t want to be part of something that betters the lives of others and is fought with conviction because of conviction?
Conviction looks different for everyone. Circumstances look different for everyone. As I was growing in my faith, being discipled and learning more and more about scripture, I was taught “do not force your convictions on others”. This is something that is super difficult but also very wise. While my brother/sister in Christ may be convicted to not watch certain tv shows, not drink alcohol, etc. they should not push those convictions on me or others. While I may have conviction and passion and drive to do or not do certain things, I should not push this on others. As we grow in our faith, we find what we are convicted to do or not do. As brothers/sisters in Christ, we should be asking the right questions but we should not be asking leading questions. We should be asking about time in the word. We should be asking what is being learned. We should be asking how this affects your daily life. Your walk with Christ. Your view of God. Your view of others. Your convictions. Your circumstances.
I encourage you, if you are a believer and you are not sure what your convictions are, take some time to sit down and really pray through those. Ask God to reveal these areas in your life. If you know what your convictions are, pray over them and write down the verses that lead you to these convictions. Your convictions can change over time as you grow, but you want to know why you are convicted of these things. You’ll want to know how you came to this conclusion. If you don’t, it can be incredibly easy to compromise on those when you are in a situation that you have to choose between conviction or circumstance.
The candidate I worked for may have been tempted to follow choices of circumstance, but I never saw that. When challenged on his pro-life stance, he didn’t back down. He reminded the challengers that life is not just 3 trimesters, but the health of the mother and child (health care policy), proper education throughout (education policy), proper living arrangements (affordable housing policy), access to information (rural broadband policy), and right to life (the ridding of the death penalty). Convictions are usually multifaceted. They do not only serve one purpose, but often cover a number of areas in life. Think about your convictions. Pray over them. Pray to make choices based on the convictions God has placed in your life rather than circumstances. If you aren’t prepared, it’s easy to choose your circumstances over convictions.
Make good choices.