"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
I was a firebrand. A teenager with zealous convictions and no fear in speaking them to whoever would listen and whoever wouldn't listen. I would pray loud, talk longer and bring out the Bible to make a point. If you had a question, I had an answer. If you had a belief, I had a Scripture to back up what I believed. I had a boatload of personal convictions that I lived by. Some inspired by the Spirit of God, and some that I had embraced because of the influence of others.
Personal convictions are good. I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit created me as a girl filled to the brim with personal convictions because He knew better than I did all about the challenges my life would bring. I needed to learn early in life what it meant to walk in the Spirit, what it meant to hear the voice of God, and what it meant to figure out what I believed based on the Bible and do that... even when it was unpopular. I've been through days when no one else in the youth group agreed with me, when things were uncomfortable because people thought my standards were stupid, where even those in spiritual leadership wouldn't go quite as far as me. Sometimes I stood, sometimes I stumbled, sometimes I held on without fear. Through it all, I learned that there was nothing as precious as knowing that I was pleasing to God.
I learned that come hell or high water, God would remain faithful.
I learned that it didn't matter who thought something was okay or why, if the Holy Spirit pressed it upon my heart, I had to listen.
I learned that holiness and Christian liberty are perfectly compatible in the lives of those who walk with Christ.
I learned that sometimes it takes honesty to admit my personal conviction is based on my own weakness.
I learned that personal convictions are sometimes meant to be personal -- i.e. shared when someone asks a direct question --- and sometimes meant to be shouted from the edges of the Internet, as the situation requires.
I learned what it meant to live for God and not man.
Those days of walking out of movies because the content was inappropriate for a young Christian girl to see... they prepared me for this moment, this life, this battle that I live in. You see, four years ago, I chose to date a man. A few weeks later, his father told him that dating me would be equal to rebellion to spiritual authority. My future husband chose to live by his conviction that this was God's will for his life. We chose to marry. This decision cost us much. It cost us the presence of his parents at our wedding ceremony. It cost us normal relationships with parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. All because of one controlling, cultic church and its iron fists of false doctrine.
Several years ago, we started a website. There had been a burden on our hearts for months. One Sunday, it was time. We knew that we needed to speak truth in a way that few others had done before. To expose false doctrine in a cultic church. It cost us much. It continues to cost us much.
Conviction: n. a firmly held belief or opinion, the state of being convinced.
What amazes me the most about living with conviction is that people just don't understand.
People say, "why don't you just apologize?" They ask us to simply walk a different line, be a little less controversial, compromise, 'repent' of something--anything--it doesn't even have to be sinful. They tell us to lay down our beliefs for the sake of peace, to give in so that there will be reconciliation. They use Christian language to advocate deception and cowardice and living for man.
Let me be clear: I pray for reconciliation. I pray for peace.
I also pray for truth, and light, and Spirit-filled conviction.
I pray for courage, and strength, and divine power to fight a spiritual battle with very real ramifications.
Yeah, living with conviction has cost me... and I'm okay with that.