Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Conviction vs. Preference

So maybe my definitions are wrong.

Maybe I don't understand. Maybe my perspective is off.

But I can't help but wonder at the placement we, as Christians, give the words "conviction" and "preference." Sometimes, they're interchangeable. And from my understanding...they shouldn't be.

Sometimes we mean conviction but say preference because we're fearing man. And don't want others to think we're being self-righteous or "holier than thou."

Other times we say conviction but mean preference and are judging others for being licentious or not quite as strong in their pursuit of holiness. When in reality, the Bible speaks nothing directly of the thing that we hold a "conviction" about. A synonym for conviction is "doctrine." That should open our eyes. Would we say "xyz" is our DOCTRINE?

I think a better understanding of these words and what they communicate, would do a great service to both the Church and unbelievers alike.

In my perspective, conviction needs to be based on truth. Unquestionable, unalterable, clear-as-day truth found in Scripture. A sin to not walk out. It is not dependent on culture. Or upbringing. It's irrelevant what past teaching has been on right or wrong...or even what's most comfortable to us. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit and birthed in our hearts through the Living Word of God. (At least, in my opinion.)

For example. To say we have a "conviction" about something that Scripture doesn't speak to specifically, I think is often a dis-service to our audience. A "conviction" to not be alone with someone of the opposite sex one on one. Such a preference can be great wisdom!!! But if you were kidnapped and held hostage along with someone of the opposite sex...surely that wouldn't be SIN.

In calling something a "conviction", shouldn't the isolated act or thing be sin if it is (or is not) done? Otherwise...its just a preference.

Preferences can change. And do change. Convictions should not.

A preference about when to kiss your boyfriend in your relationship, or how many beers is the limit for you...is unique. TO YOU. Preferences cannot be put onto others-- there's no room for it. You have yours, I have mine. No judgement should be passed.

And IN those preferences, we can hold the conviction that sexual immorality is always sin. And the Bible is clear that we are not to get drunk.

But we must stop there. We can not "add to" what the Bible says is sin with our ideas of how to "best stay away" and then judge others if we think they're getting "too close."

We can prefer. We have room to. But its when we hold others to the standard of "our preference" and not the Word of God and the Word of God ALONE that we become man-centered. We develop opinions about others that are irrelevant. It doesn't matter what we think.

Life is not like facebook. You don't get to "comment."

I've had this conversation with several people in the recent past...just thought it deserved a post.

Thoughts? Comments?

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