by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
This is one of these fundamental questions, I believe, that we should not only ask ourselves but know how to answer. In fact, this is the very question I ask the students in my ethics class at a local university, pointing out that they must identify what they believe and why they believe it.
The concept of conviction in our culture today seems to have given way to the “virtue” of compromise. While compromise in certain contexts is needed, the idea of following the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing, seems to be the mantra of our time! But our culture is desperate for leaders who will rise above the rest and live with conviction.
Conviction creates a clear path for how to choose to live our lives. It is an every day reminder that certain things must never be compromised; that we must stand for certain core values even if it means we have to stand alone.
The story of the sacrifice of Riley Howell is an example in point: When the gunman entered his classroom at UNC Charlotte, rather than run or hide Riley charged him. An act – not surprising to those who knew him – that reflected the way he lived his life. Although this decision would cost Riley his life, it saved the lives of others. Conviction does not yield to consequences but lives by principle: doing what one knows is the right thing to do.
The Christian world needs men and women of conviction: Men and women who, like Riley, will stand for what is right, regardless of the cost. Men and women who will not seek the comforts of compromise, but out of a love for Jesus Christ and others will stand for what is true; men and women who, despite the pressures of popular opinion, are willing to stand alone for their faith.
So, let me ask you the same question I ask my ethics students, what are your convictions? What do you believe and why do you believe it? May we be ready every day to give a reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15, 16).