In 2016, one thing divided our country like it hadn't seen in recent memory. It turned family against family, neighbor against neighbor, father against son, and friends against friends. It was the question everyone was asking each other on Facebook: "Who are you backing?"
No one knew who would win, and everyone had an opinion on the topic. You had to pick a side. There was no room for neutrality. We all had to have the courage to declare where our loyalty was placed. The question: Are you Team Iron Man or Team Captain America?
The movie "Captain America: Civil War" was a Hollywood Blockbuster. The plot focused on Captain America's inability to compromise his convictions and sign the peace accords.
There is one quote from this movie that stuck out to me. At Peggy's funeral, they use a famous quote from Christopher Markus:
"Compromise where you can. Where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say 'No, you move.'"
The older I get, the more I believe in the importance of strong, personal convictions—unshakeable beliefs that you are willing to fight for, die for or stand firm on.
There are many truths in the Bible about which compromise cannot be tolerated.
There are also activities and attitudes that the Bible specifically calls sins. These are things that separate us from God. No Christian should tolerate them. They hinder our walk with God, bring painful consequences, and could jeopardize where we spend eternity. Obedience in these areas is a big deal.
If the Bible says something is a sin, it is a sin. There is no compromise.
However, there are things that some Christians feel are wrong that others do not see as an issue.
There's a difference between a Biblical conviction and a personal conviction.
A Biblical conviction is something the Bible says is wrong either directly or reasonably indirectly. For instance, the Bible says that fornication is a sin. This isn't up for debate. Because the Bible says so, sex outside of marriage is always a sin.
The Bible also says murder is a sin. Because abortion is murdering an unborn child, abortion is a sin. It isn't up for debate even though the word "abortion" isn't used in the Bible. It's a reasonable conclusion.
A personal conviction is different. It is something that one person feels is wrong for them; however, it is not directly addressed in the Bible. They feel the Holy Spirit's conviction; however, other believers may not.
For example, we have friends who hold to the personal conviction that it is wrong for them to listen to secular music. They don't listen to it at all. Personally, it doesn't bother me to listen to a little Elvis. I am extremely careful what I listen to and don't listen to anything perverse, vulgar, or violent. However, I don't hold to their strict standard.
On the other hand, I hold to the personal conviction that I do not go to the movie theatre. It's how I was raised, and I've stuck with it even though I know that most Christians don't have a problem with it.
Ultimately, these are personal convictions. They are areas where one person feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but not all Christians agree. They are not directly addressed in the Bible.
This is not a new thing. It's been going on since New Testament times when some believers felt very convicted if they ate meat from idols. Others thought, "What does it matter where it comes from…idols are worthless… let's chow down."
In Romans 14, Paul addressed these issues because he saw they were causing division in the church.
Today, we don't struggle so much with what we eat or don't eat, but the issue of personal convictions still causes problems among believers. Paul's answers for how to deal with personal convictions still apply.
How do you deal with personal convictions?
1. Always obey the Holy Spirit's conviction.
If He tells you something is wrong for you, it doesn't matter what other people do or think. You have to obey.
2. Always respect another person's conviction.
When you're around them, don't try to get them to change their mind. Instead, respect their commitment. Go along with their personal conviction, so you don't cause them to sin. What's the big deal? Make the sacrifice for the sake of their conscience.
3. Don't try and push your personal conviction on somebody else.
There are enough Biblical convictions we need to be teaching in the church. Personal convictions are exactly that— personal convictions. Don't expect someone else to live under your personal conviction. You obey the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead and guide other people.
4. Remember, if it's in the Bible, it is not a personal conviction.
It's a Biblical conviction and meant to be obeyed. In these areas, listen to Captain America and refuse to bend.
Memory Verse: Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:13, ESV)
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