Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. – Frederich Nietzsche
I’m on the verge of a change.
Yeah, I know, we all say it. We say it until nobody listens to it anymore. We’ve all grown so accustom to messages and words about change, they don’t mean much. But I’m not saying it because I am trying to get a slogan printed on a T-shirt or to sell CDs; I’m saying it because it is true.
And, that change is an adjustment.
As a person, I tend to be deeply convicted. It’s just who I am; Apostle Tim Hopkins describes me as being “prophetically ruled.” By this, he means that I believe the way I see and do things is correct and I believe it is the way it is supposed to be. Personally, I think he’s just trying to nicely say I am set in my ways (as we used to say), but I get what he means. I believe in what I believe in and I believe in it completely…and I’ll stand behind it….and for it…and I believe it is the way it is supposed to be done. I believe in my ideologies. They govern my life and the way I conduct myself and the way I believe people in general should conduct themselves.
At the same time, God has been speaking to me about balance for many, many years. As a general rule, the world and the church at large tend to gravitate toward extremes. God has taught me that the answer lies in the balance, not the extremes. We should be striving for balance. While conviction is fine, we must be people who always leave room for mercy and should strive to operate, function, and live in a balance rather than as one extreme or another.
Based on the ideologies I have, I made certain decisions about my self-governance pertaining to my life. I admit that some of them sound extreme, even to me. Knowing how I am, the life I have and the life I hope to have, and the true desire I have to see this ministry grow, I decided what I believed was best for me. It didn’t matter that some of these perspectives and principles fell to the far extreme – I believed they were what was best.
I convinced myself the decisions were “mature.” They were me being a grown-up and standing behind my ideologies, living them out to the letter, being exactly what I claimed to be.
Then, the Lord spoke today.
“It’s not the ideology that’s the problem it’s the application. You can’t use your ideologies to keep yourself from other people.”
I could pretend I don’t know what He is talking about, but I know that I do. I didn’t realize I was doing it, but I have been. The way it started was all-too-tempting to build the wall and shut someone out. Then it was just easier to do it anywhere it need be applied. Whether I want to admit it or not, I have let my personal ideologies be used as walls in my life to keep people out of it. While I staunchly believe that, as leaders, we need to establish boundaries with people, that has nothing to do with using certain concepts or belief systems to just keep people away.
This all came up because I am finally finishing my book on evangelism. I realized as I wrote both yesterday and today how we use our ideologies and concepts to keep people away from us. We call them “convictions,” we don’t even live them the way we want to half the time. We take them into the danger zone of using them to keep us comfortable and safe, and keep other people away from us. We use them because it’s a lot easier to fall back on conviction and ideological belief than it is to still maintain what we believe while interacting and caring about other people.
We use them to avoid change.
Nietzsche’s words about conviction should make us all take note of the imbalances in our lives. Conviction is more dangerous because it’s harder to change. A lie can be proven not to be true, but a conviction can hold tighter and faster than the grave, especially when we feel we have come to it as a result of belief or introspection. It’s fine to be for something, stand up for something, believe in something, and adhere to something. Whether we want to deal with it or not, the world is changing, life is changing, attitudes are changing, and people are changing. We can’t use our concepts and beliefs to hide from others and from reaching out to them.
Every one of us says we want change, but do we really? Change is hard. With change comes the challenge of ideals and things we have held dear. Instead of forsaking everything, we are called to find that eternal balance, rather than a new extreme. With God’s words, I realize there is nothing wrong with the base; there is nothing wrong with my belief; the problem is the way I have sought to apply it. I have used them to avoid new seasons and new things that are coming in my life. I am not afraid of change, I simply don’t want to be in a place where I have to deal with the non-acceptance of others again. After awhile, having people constantly trying to “fix” or “change” you to their own ideologies gets boring.
The thing is that life doesn’t happen in a bubble. It’s wonderful to think we will use our own ideologies to avoid those of others, but it doesn’t work that way. We must seek to do something else, and finding balance helps us do just that. In it, we learn where the limits for our own boundaries lie and we gain a better sense of just how we can impact the world with what we believe. It is that eternal struggle to figure out just where we end and others begin.
Your belief system is not a weapon to keep other people away from you. Your thoughts, concepts, ideas, and beliefs are important; they help make up who you are. Just as you have something for them, so they too have something for you. If we are going to make it, if we are going to do this thing, we need to stop using our beliefs as an excuse to stop loving other people.
Take a deep breath…
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.