Conviction or Controversy
When we come in contact with Jesus, he begins to change our lives because when Jesus inhabits a place, he never leaves things the same. Jesus' desire is to bring us higher, and when we find ourselves in the presence of Jesus, we realize how much we need a change in our desires, passions, and motives. That feeling of wanting Jesus to change who you are, at your essence, is what the Bible calls conviction. Conviction is that feeling that dives deeper than behavioral changes to the core of who we are. Its a sense that there is something wrong with who I am, and I need Jesus to transform me as a being. The problem lies in that we, as human beings, don't like conviction because it hits us in our pride, passions, and desires. So instead of conviction taking us to repentance, we try to get out of the hot seat and silence conviction by turning to points of religious controversy. In other words, we choose to engage in religious arguments to quiet the call of Jesus to change our hearts.
The fascinating thing is that this is a phenomenon that happens to both religious and non-religious people. In the gospel of John, the woman at the well was, by any estimation, a "non-believer". But when she came in contact with Jesus, because of who He is, she came under conviction because of who she is. The Samaritan woman, noticing that she is under conviction, tries to get the microscope off of who she is, and started to deviate the conversation to the religious controversy over whether God's people should worship in Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim in the north. This happens because conviction will produce repentance, or we create controversy. The same happens with so-called believers in God. The religious leaders of Jesus' day were convicted of their hypocrisy, dead formalism, and burdening traditions. But when they came in contact with Jesus and the conviction that He brings, they decided to create controversy on religious matters such as how Jesus and his disciples kept the Sabbath and how they didn't keep the empty traditions of the day. All of that was to silence conviction that brings repentance. Unfortunately, this happens today. People that have never heard the gospel or are loosely aware of the Bible and religion tend to silence conviction by pointing out the negative aspects of faith. They don't want to be in a relationship with Jesus because of Charlatans, bigoted televangelists, expensive jets, and the prosperity gospel. But this hits home to the church, those who claim to be followers of Jesus, those of us that when Jesus convicts us, we start fights on the way people dress, what they eat, how they worship and all the while what we are really doing is silencing the conviction that comes with following Jesus. Fights over who to ordain, who we admit into fellowship, and how we express our faith may be evidence of a more profound conviction that we are trying to ignore, and to do that, we pick fights on trivial religious problems to get the focus off of ourselves. If Jesus is convicting you today, don't make excuses and look at people's failures to get out of the hot seat. If your encounter with Jesus produces conviction, don't pick fights over trivial religious controversies to silence the changes that you need to make. When Jesus comes knocking, will you let him change you, or are you going to be part of the controversy?