by Simon Schrock
Here is a reactionist story. There were some people who couldn't get along in their church. Their words wasn't the final word. They reacted and came "out from among them." Now they were on their own and no church was suggesting fight and wrong. But now what shall they do? They can't do the way they did before. They must believe different, to win their case. If they baptize, hold communion, go by a name or meet in a church they will be like the church they left. Sure enough they found "Scriptural" ways to be different. No communion, no name, no meeting house, just to mention a few. In a real way, the church they left was running their lives. Their reactions to the church were molding their beliefs. While the life of the church they despised went on, their own bitterness made them into contemptible, stubborn, more-enlightened-than-thou, people. They lived their lives in reaction to their "enemies," rather than in honest truth learned from God's Word.
Aren't we much like that? Mission efforts may be a result of a reaction rather than conviction. Like some who lose faith in the brotherhood and charge it with not obeying the great commission. So they leave in the name of missions. They join another church to live out their convictions. What happened? They were active and faithful for awhile-but now it's all over and they have settled down to routine worldly living. Their mission convictions are history. Was it conviction? It may have been a reaction to something and the reaction took shape in being for rnissions. Reactions wear off. Convictions from the Word of God move to action and faithfulness through love.
One may insist on missions at any price and lose out in doctrine. Others react and say that is missions for you.
Large numbers of young people are becoming conscientious objectors to war. Is it because of a relationship with Christ and the Word? Many have developed these views because of reaction to the Vietnam conflict, which may be understood. However this is hardly a life pattern that is being developed.
People have gone to extremes on being "modest." Talk about nonconformity, they had it. [But they still needed to be transformed.] On the other side of the issue, some have disregarded all discipline, and have accepted the latest thing out. Was that following honest convictions? Sounds like reactions were developing their lives.
One trusts obedience to his church for salvation. Another reacts and wants to do away with all church guidelines. Another reacts to that and becomes rigid and adds more discipline. So on and on we go, reacting to each other. Instead, we should note the admonition, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Cor. 10:31). One thing about reaction though, you get to eat a lot of your own words.
A friend may over-correct his child. You react and under-discipline yours.
Your neighbor goes to the doctor too often to suit your taste, so you react and don't go at all.
One brother may become overly emotional, others react and become dead quiet. Another may show no outward emotions, others react and become noisy.
People are mistreated because of their race. Others react and go to extremes to correct it. They may marry one of another race to prove a point.
We see violence from civil rights demands-we react and say if that is the way they are going to be let them go back to Africa.
A preacher drives over the speed limit. Since we don't care for his personality anyway, we react and suddenly turn temporarily into road angels.
A lady is a sloppy house keeper. Another reacts and won't let her family "live" because it clutters up the house.
We could go on, but perhaps you got the point. Your convictions may be formed from reactions. The person you fell out with may become the governing influence of your life. It may be a brother who sits in the pew in front of you. You lost fellowship ever since you disagreed several years ago. Since you don't care for him, you make sure you don't do like he does. Results? Your convictions are reactions to him. Difference in the two of you? He is a stubborn brother at one of the pendulum and you are another one at the other end of the swing.
"Convictions" can be formed from hatred. When love and respect is lost, hatred comes in. Reactions to each other move to stated convictions. It is almost humorous-but sad, how some people will go to great efforts to practice the ordinances in a different way from the people they lost love for. This is living a hard life of reactions rather than Bible-based convictions.
When we react to people, we close them out of our lives. We close the possibility of learning and growing. Sometimes God uses our least-loved ones to teach us a growing experience. When one closes people out of his life by reaction, he is robbing his own life. Just because we are Christians, doesn't give us all the answers to everything. Reacting to another makes life a little nearer worthless for both of you. But acting from deep-seated Bible convictions in the Jesus way of life and love will add enthusiasm to life.
Challenge your own convictions. Discover if you are living on convictions or reactions. Check on your life by these questions. Do you love God with all your heart? Your fellowman as yourself? Do you esteem the other person better than yourself? Can you stay with the issue and not attack the other's character? Do you stay free from bitter attitudes? If your answers are "no," reactions may be running-and ruining-your life.
What kind of person will have convictions to follow Christ's style of life? He will love God, be committed to Him, be led by the Holy Spirit with resulting fruits. He uses God's Words for his guide. He applies God's principles to life. He can face the issue and deal in light of God's Word. He can listen to another's views and grow, yet not be swayed from truth. He shares his faith in Christ, yet preserves it for the next generation. That is a big order. Here are God's instructions how to reach it. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness" (II Tim. 2:15, 16). Following these instructions lays a solid foundation of convictions to live by.
Followers of Jesus should have convictions that act and respond in Christ's way of life. Firm-but gentle, humble, with love, kindness and compassion. Followers of Jesus live now. Their convictions permit them to live freely and positively, and be the Church. They are an encouragement to those who meet them, because Christ is their Lord. That pattern of life doesn't come to one who reacts to reactions and permits his enemies to run his life.
Say! The people you like least may be running your life. Challenge your own convictions and see-then move on to become more like Jesus.
By Simon Schrock
4614 Holly Ave.
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