Dear Flock and Friends,
In this edition of the “Pastoral Epistle,” I want to invite you to take a look at your own personal “conviction thermostats.” By “conviction,” I mean those truths that you are assured of and which drive you from day to day. It has been said that convictions are not merely beliefs that you hold but beliefs that hold you. There is often a big difference between what you say you believe (about God, about salvation in Christ, about marriage, about politics) and what you prove by your actual daily life what you in fact truly believe.
In our current post-modern age, we live more by what appeals to our personal feelings or what is popular. Connecting the dots between “what is true” and “how do I respond in life” are more and more ambiguous. We easily compromise what we believe, tend to morally spineless, or what C.S. Lewis called “hollow chests,” i.e., people without heart of conviction. We know more information and technical savvy than ever – if only we knew how to use it wisely.
That brings me to the “thermostat” aspect … If we are driven by our convictions, then we will function in our lives and families and vocations more like a thermostat than a thermometer. Thermometers merely measure and reflect the environment around them, whereas thermostats change the environment, according to convictions on the one hand and the circumstances of the day on the other.
The news and call of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is not an advertisement to merely personal sense of meaning, comfort, and peace (though it does produce that); rather it is an announcement of a King’s victory in redeeming a people from sin and death and an authoritative call to enter into his terms of new life and follow Him in His Mission to advance His Kingdom Redemption unto all the world. The Gospel creates a new people who are called “conquerors” (Rom 8:37) and “overcomers” (1 John 5:5; Rev 21:7), a “kingdom of priests” who “shall reign” (Rev 5:9). Christians take the authority of the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of Christ and bring change to the environment, shine light into the darkness (Matt 5:14-16), set the new trends gracious dictated by God. We are God’s thermostats who bring the thermo-dynamic of the Gospel into every sphere of life. We do not operate, therefore, with the instruments of this world but with the Word, bring every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:3-6).
So, where are our “conviction thermostats” set? Here, we cannot afford to assume or be presumptuous with ourselves or one another. If we are not drilling into the depths of the Word of God, then our convictions will come from empty places. We will have “forsaken the living waters, and hewed out broken cisterns … that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13). Our urgent need is to see these empty places among us and to “ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jer 6:16). If we are not drilling deep in our theology and in knowing God according to His Word, then we will not rise high in worship or high in spiritual vitality; rather our worship will remain shallow and our spiritual lives will be dry. But the deeper we drill in our convictions, the higher our appetite in worship will be and the higher our spiritual growth (which will be profound humility that is at the same time profoundly joyful and bold … just like Jesus!).
Let me exhort all of us to do exactly what the Apostle Paul commanded in 1 Timothy 4:13, “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Let’s give ourselves in one accord to the “teaching of the apostles” (Acts 2:42), beginning with Lord’s Day worship and with one another in our community groups and privately.
Grace and peace,