Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Are you convicted, accused, or left alone?
Am I splitting hairs? Well, for sake of the conversation, what we were talking about with regards to "feeling accused" are those thoughts of "See, you're not really a changed person." and "There! You did it again! You are so weak!" and "Some Christian you are!", etc. Since accusation, by the nature I have described here, pulls us down, attempts to chain us to our sinful nature and attempts to cripple us from moving forward with God, it cannot be of or from God.
That conversation resurfaced in my thoughts this morning as I was praying and reflecting on God and how He moves in my life. I received several affirmations through prayer, scripture, and from a couple of recent conversations with people. Isn't that alone an affirmation of how God speaks to us?
When we feel convicted, we are feeling that tug of the Holy Spirit which helps us face the truth that we have sinned and need to be reconciled with God. But even deeper, it leads to repentance and a desire to get back up and try harder. Conviction calls us to dig deeper than "I have sinned" but to seek God's help in understanding "What in my life is God calling me to change to help me avoid this sin again?".
But there was a time in my life when I did not feel convicted nor accused. I lived my life as I wanted, devoid of God. The scary part is not feeling convicted or accused means that the enemy, the devil saw no need to accuse me or to "beat me up". He had bigger fish to fry and since I was already in the vat, he could just let me set there while he looked for other prey.
But thanks be to God that the Lord does not just let us "set there". He's always calling us to Himself.
It's easy now to see where my life was, where I was heading. It's easy now to see what events in my life God was using to call to me, to bring me home to Him. I see how He reminded me several times of His presence, of my need for Him. I also see how God used other people to guide me back to Him. Some, perhaps unaware of this. But one person, who has become a very good friend, did know. He had the courage to tell me the truth. Oh, others had previously done so as well, but I can have a hard head and sometimes using a cardboard roller just isn't as effective as a sledge hammer. I needed the sledge hammer, and this friend "let me have it"!
He said "You know you're going to hell, don't you?"
It was like a punch in the gut. I was mad. But I couldn't say anything at first. I was too busy with those words spinning in my head, and then...hitting me straight in the heart. "Wait, George. Didn't you elude that accusation does not come from God?" Well, you're right. I did. What "sounds" like an accusation was really the proclamation of the Truth. (Yes, caps for the Truth, Jesus.) The difference? Again, accusation distracts us from God. This proclamation of the Truth brought on conviction.
"You know, I guess you're right." was all that I could say. Conviction. Conviction brings conversion.
That was the beginning of true conversion for me. So many things have transpired since then. God is calling us all to conversion every day and every moment. As a former pastor preached repeatedly, "Conversion is not a one time event or an experience, but a life long process of cooperating with God's Grace to transform ourselves more closely to Christ".
This morning's contemplation was brought on by what's going on in our world these days.
How do we respond? Throwing around accusations surely isn't the way. Do we just ignore our brothers and sisters by simply adopting the motto "live and let live"? That's not exactly allowing God to use us, now is it? We must proclaim the Truth, charitably but unceasingly. Sometimes and some persons may require the use of a sledge hammer. Some may require the cardboard roller. Some may even need a gentle feather (or whisper).
But to discern what is needed to help others, we must first continue to be attentive to our own conversion, to be more Christ-like.
Many people will try to shut you up by using Jesus' words, "You hypocrite, remove the plank from your own eye." Sure, but Jesus does not say "leave your brother alone". The complete command from Jesus is "You hypocrite, remove the plank from your own eye first. Then you will be able to see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."