Who has conviction?

It is increasingly rare to encounter people of deep conviction. This is especially true of our political leadership which seems to be afraid of alienating people rather than committed to leading them. Where are we to find people of such conviction today? Or have we moved beyond the need for such conviction, considering that it gives birth to narrow-mindedness which no longer has a home in Western culture?

The people who have made the most impact on history have been people of deep conviction, able to stand in the face of significant opposition. Yet they are enabled to stand through their conviction of what is right. The most recent examples of such people include Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, whose commitment to particular causes is legend. Previous generations in the 20th century brought forward human rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, our own Charles Perkins, with his commitment to Aboriginal peoples. Where are these people of conviction to be found today?

Noted church historian H Wheeler Robinson comments “We do not know men until we realise their convictions, and penetrate to permanent principles of thought and conduct underlying those convictions.”

Perhaps more than any other place we ought to find such people in a Baptist setting. With a church built on the notion of personal conviction of faith as evidenced through Believers Baptism, conviction ought to be an identifiable characteristic of those who bear the name “Baptist” and who practise similar expression of faith.

How is it that such conviction is born and nurtured? Not from church hierarchy – though they can encourage people to search for it. Not from traditions – which are clearly evident in our communal life – although they might provide the groundwork in which they can grow. No, such conviction is born in the heart of God and finds its place in the human heart through an ongoing relationship with Christ. Perhaps this lack of conviction is evidence of a lukewarm yearning for God.

The prevailing disillusionment with political and community leadership in this present day is evidence of a yearning for some conviction, some passion. Not an empty gimmick but something with integrity.

The words of God echo again “Whom shall I send? Who will go for me?”

June 17, 2001
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