Fully Convinced

2:48 AM

I come up with muddled ideas, naive ideas, and I don't know where I get them, but I do, and here's one: Because the truth is true, it should be obvious to everyone. Eventually, if you argue long enough and preach long enough and bang Bibles long enough, the truth will come out and everyone will agree. The reason everybody holds different ideas (so I thought) is because nobody actually does their homework. They give up halfway through and never hear the different sides out long enough to make a decision.

This wreaked havoc in me when studying theology. If someone disagreed with me, I started hatching butterflies in my stomach. Wait...what am I missing? What is he missing? How could he just totally destroy this person's view when that person seemed to get everything spot on? What's going on?

Once, I went to a homeschool convention and picked up a brochure from an uber-conservative company on why fiction was evil. At the time, I spent most of my waking hours writing fiction and aspiring to be the next C. S. Lewis. And when I read through the argument -- which even I saw was ridiculous -- I burst into uncontrollable tears. I don't really know why. It upset me, I suppose, that I had to research and argue for yet another aspect of my life to make sure it lined up with Scripture. "They could be right," I told my mom through hiccuping sobs. "They could be right, and I'd have to stop writing."

Everyone holds different ideas on everything. Everyone. If you agree theologically, you most likely disagree practically or vice versa. The Bible gets tossed around for every idea under the sun. I ran myself ragged trying to disprove all opposing viewpoints as wrong to feel confident about declaring certain viewpoints right.

You know what I've discovered? The prevalence of opposing views comes not necessarily from lack of logic or lack of information. It comes, sometimes, from stubbornness, from a dislike of the truth even if convinced it's true, from cowardice to accept the truth. It takes the Spirit to convince a sinner to follow Christ and believe the truth and base his life on the truth, no matter how eloquent the preacher or apologist waxes. Some people quench the Spirit. Some remain in spiritual bondage, unable to see the truth even if they wanted to. (Thank goodness for the grace of our God who sets even us more stubborn people -- like me -- free indeed!)

I think I feel obligated to convince everyone of a certain truth because I blog. God teaches me something, and I hop on the interwebs to declare this truth, and lo and behold, surprise, surprise, someone disagrees with me. Back I go to Scripture to review everything I learned, back I go to prayer. I feel uneasy now about my newfound belief, but not unconvinced. I return to the interwebs and present an even more stellar argument only to have that refuted...and back I go to the drawing board.

I give up. I surrender.

It's not my job to convict people. It's not my job to change hearts. I can't even do that with my own, which is why I constantly fall flat on my face and beg God for the mercy to pardon my ignorance and draw me closer to the truth.

What's important is that I am fully convinced in my own mind -- that I figure out what I believe and that I base my life on that truth. If there's a problematic point that Neighbor Sally cannot figure out but I feel confident on, I have no need to hyperventilate. Spiritual problems and truth problems ultimately lie between God and the individual.

This disturbs me slightly because truth is not a private thing and I don't want to be one of those stuck-up "free in Christ" people who never listen to admonishment. This frees me mostly because I am tired of being discouraged and downhearted over the hundreds of people who put up a fight with my most cherished beliefs.

"I can't explain it!" I cry to God. "I can't put into words what I mean!"

He frees me from that. I clarify when I can, give an answer when people ask it, but when I've explained enough, I finally wipe my hands and move on to the next city or bunker down and pray for revelation. Nobody needs bully me about my beliefs. I need not bully anyone about theirs. I proclaim and I pray, but, ultimately, truth belongs to God and He grants it as He pleases.

Interwebs, I am not apologizing or trying to convince you anymore. I strive to be fully convinced in my own mind. I strive to know God for myself and not make sure that the entire internet supports that endeavor.

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5 impressions

  1. Hey Bailey!

    Ok, I'm REALLY curious, because I feel like there are ways in which I'd be totally on the same page as you and ways in which we'd really differ - where would you draw the line on acceptable fuzziness of truth? For example, is a non-Christian's relationship true in the same way, or are there certain theological points that everyone should basically get behind in order to have true beliefs?

    I really enjoy your blog, hope that you're doing well!
    Katie

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  2. I was just talking about this very thing with a friend last week...yup, I agree. I think that the Bible is clear on the things that need o be clear, and there's no disputing those. But on the fuzzy issues, or even the ones that aren't in there, yeah....it's a hard topic, isn't it? I enjoy reading your thoughts about things!

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  3. This sounds like me. I will cry late at night for a friend who does not understand salvation or even just certain aspects of their walk with Christ or challenges in their life. At a certain point, I think this is a holy desire, when coupled with humility- we have a compassion for struggling people and a passion to share the truth with the lost. But at a certain point, when we find ourselves trying to force other people to see what we see, we should be wary of our desires because we may just be missing it. We can point people to Christ, we can reflect Christ's love to them, but we can't replace the Holy Spirit in their lives. When we find ourselves at this point, it's time to check for humility. The only thing that can truly drive people to Christ is the Holy Spirit himself- the only thing that can breathe life in our hearts is the very breath of God (the Hebrew word for inspire means 'God-breathed').

    And maybe when we find ourselves at that point, it's time to hunker down in prayer some more. I don't think we should become complacent about the the Body of Christ and the people in it, and I don't think we should silence our desire for a holy Bride. But we do need to check our hearts. Is the goal for me to be right, or is the goal for Christ's presence to be known, for the Bride of Christ to be presented spotless and holy to her Bridegroom?

    If the goal is a spotless Bride, then we as Christians ought to know very well that we can't do that on our own. It's not on our righteousness that our salvation is based, because that would be a broken and flimsy salvation indeed.

    It is on God's perfect, holy Grace alone that the Bride can be presented as holy, pure and pleasing.

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Bailey!

    -Camille

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  4. Camille, I LOVE how you put that! The power of prayer is truly the greatest power we possess -- no words or human effort can convince anyone apart from the Spirit.

    Katie, hopefully I'm understanding your question correctly. Feel free to clarify what you mean if I totally misunderstand you! I wrote this post primarily about interchanges between Christians on non-salvation issues -- important issues but not foundational issues.

    I believe some of this applies to relationships to nonbelievers -- I'm not the Spirit of God and banging Bibles gets nowhere. I still believe that even if all Christians everywhere preach the truth, not everyone will believe. Belief is a choice, and many things keep otherwise rational people from believing truth.

    However, I would be far more insistent on a salvation issue (whether or not someone claims to be a Christian or not). There might come a point where I must say, "This conversation is going nowhere, and I'll agree to disagree," but in saying that, I'm not acknowledging multiple "truths." It's simply that sometimes, I need to back off and let God take over. I would not say, "You can believe whatever you want and that's fine," but I might have to say, "Ok, we're clearly going to disagree. I'd encourage you to reconsider because I firmly believe this is true and relevant, but I'll love you no matter what." And if that person professes Christ and breaks with foundational truths on the nature of God, Christ, or salvation, I would probably be more blunt, since brothers in Christ are supposed to guard the truth and care for one another's spiritual well-being. But again, there comes a point where my words become useless, and I must back off and remain fully convinced myself.

    Did that at all answer your question? :)

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  5. Oh gosh, YES. This is the exact thing I've been encountering lately -- with friends, with parents, with family. I'm learning that on the issues that aren't clearly put in the Bible, I need to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance on that issue for MY life. God may lead another person differently than me, and that's perfectly okay. My job is to be of a firm mind in what I believe, but yet, still be open and tender to other people's ideas. Does that make sense? Anyways, you put it far more eloquently than I could. Love you!

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