I was gripped this morning, as I contemplated a powerful message delivered yesterday morning, one centered on John 13-17. This masterpiece of writing so amply describes the gift of love, which God desires continually manifest through our lives. The love the Father had for Jesus Christ before creation, the love that Christ poured out in His lifetime, and yes, even upon those who hated Him. This same love is available for us and with that, the authority, the full capacity of the Name, to deliver that love. I so want to be about that in the few days I have left.
Moved by that sermon yesterday, I found myself awakened early with desire to pour over the text, only to notice a note in the lower margin of my Bible. “Conviction is the feeling of a slave to righteousness, not condemnation.” To whom I should attribute that statement I do not know, but it set me to thinking about next steps.
How do I live into and actualize the life of Christ; displaying the love of Christ, as I serve in the everyday role which Christ provides? The answer may lie within the word conviction. Condemnation is the feeling we often experience when we fail as a believer, as a lover, or as a leader. That is also most often the case, when I compare my life to the life of Christ. Yet, the Word makes it clear, that it is “no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives in Me.”
My slavery is to his righteousness, not my own; my conviction, that compelling drive that awakens me with eternal purpose each day, is because of His righteousness in me, rather than any proud attempt to be righteous on my own. Condemnation is only empowered when I compare myself with Christ. In fact it is only pride or sin-awareness that would take me there in the first place and not the Spirit!
Condemnation was the power of the law and has always been the fly in the ointment. No one can compel a man to do right, even those who most understand religion. Religion is perhaps our failed attempts at righteousness. Righteousness is a gift imparted, not a practice to be learned. In Christ, there is therefore no condemnation but rather a deep conviction of a righteousness freely offered by a Friend; one that provides the capacity to give our very life for those we love. That’s powerful stuff!
Conviction comes when I realize that there is no good thing within me and anything accomplished of lasting value is simply due to Christ in me. The question then becomes not about righteousness for that is imputed of God by virtue of my standing through Christ. The question is discipleship, and that not an academic process, but a journey with the Christ, a journey of intimacy, trust, conversation and risk.
It is because of Christ and the work of Calvary that His joy resides in me and in fact is completed as I journey with Him. Deeping that conviction, are the words from John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.”
When you follow your heart and still yet failure comes, conviction strengthens the spine and brings stamina to the spirit as words of grace flow into our hearts: “No servant is greater than his master.”