So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)
Last week I spoke about how, as Christians, we need to live by our convictions. I started out as saying, "It is not good enough to have an intellectual conviction about an important issue. Unless you act according to your conviction, your belief is useless." This was in relation mostly to sin and repentance… basically, when we sin we have to repent and turn away from it or we end up despising the very grace we say that we have accepted. However, there's more to conviction than just living our lives according to forgiveness and repentance. Accepting Jesus' work on the cross in paying for our sin is the beginning, but it also goes a lot deeper than that.
Coming to Jesus involves accepting him as both Lord and Saviour. We're generally really good and happy with the Saviour part. Anyone who has come face to face with their own sin and destructive nature recognizes their need for someone to save them, but we generally still have a lot of difficulty accepting someone else as Lord willingly. In our individualistic culture, we want as much power over our lives and (usually) the lives of those around us as possible. We've learned that having this kind of power is the best way to ensure that bad things don't happen to us… they happen to other people. So, even when we recognize we need divine help, we struggle to accept laying down our will, our desires, and our measure of power over our lives.
When we accept Jesus as Lord, we're acknowledging Him as knowing better than we do. We have given Him the power to guide and direct. Our life's goals become what His goals were and are. We adjust our morals and values to what His morals and values are. If He is God (which we obviously believe Him to be), then He clearly knows and understands these things better than we do, for He created humanity and world with design and intention. This has far reaching implications.
What if our society values one set of morality, but Jesus values something else? For instance, what if our society widely accepts that you may determine your own gender and if you feel like a different gender you may be legally considered so? What if our society believes that you can have a homosexual marriage and that it is no different than a heterosexual one? What if society lauds aborting unwanted babies? These are all popular opinions in Canada at the moment, but run contrary to Jesus' espoused values and, indeed, God's design for creating humanity. Therefore, if you say that you believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as Lord and Saviour, can you actually believe as our society does in terms of its morals, or do you believe in Jesus' morals? The answer is simple, if Jesus is actually your Lord, then you've given up your understanding of the way things work for His. He knows better than you.
Let me go even a step further. If you've accepted Jesus' values and morals, then you can't even passively accept a societal value than contradicts His. You must oppose it. It is a perversion, a mockery of the divine intent for creation. Unless your actions line up with your values, your belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour is useless. It is shown to be complete hypocrisy.
As an aside, be careful how you oppose things. We don't oppose people, we oppose the spirit and the evil behind it. (Eph. 6:12) Jesus so loved everyone that He sacrificed and served them, even though they believed in all kinds of perversion. We oppose evil, but not the people under the sway of evil. Them we try to restore to relationship with God and bring them to acceptance of Jesus. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), but He loved and died for people. We should do likewise.
It takes deep conviction to stand up and oppose evil, especially when that evil is considered good and right by the society that we live in. But that is exactly what the church, the people of God, are called to do. We're to stand for what is right and actively demonstrate God's ways whether it is popular or not. However much opposition there may be, we submit to the Lordship of Jesus and think His way. It takes boldness and courage to stand in this way, especially when there are many real consequences. Doing right is not a subjective thing and should never change just because the majority thinks it should. Have the conviction to continue to stand up for what is right and let your life demonstrate your belief in Jesus.
If ever you need encouragement or someone to talk these things through with, I'd love to do so. I'm happy to hear you out whether you agree with me or. You can contact our church at firstname.lastname@example.org