Conviction: A Gift From God


Billions of dollars are spent nation wide to relieve our pain. Most of us do not deal with pain very well. It is an inconvenience and seems to be one of our greatest enemies. Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey have another approach in their book, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants. It is a compelling argument that pain plays a very important role in our lives and is actually a gift.

The book begins with the heart moving story of Tanya, a four-year-old, that has a rare disorder that does not allow her to feel pain. Her mother brought her to Dr. Brand as a last resort. Without the protective sense of feeling pain, her self-inflicted wounds had become an extremely serious situation. Dr. Brand watched Tanya’s apparent boredom as he removed the blood soiled bandages from her feet. In places, bone lay exposed because without the sense of pain Tanya’s wounds were constantly re-injured. Her only ailment that kept her from being normal was her inability to feel pain. After reading this book, my view of pain has been forever altered. Pain is something to be appreciated.

Not only does our society try to mask, hide, and diminish pain, but it also tries to ignore things that stir the heart. Mainstream religion no longer points out the errors of the sinful, but rather coddles society along to reach a higher level of understanding. The reason? Our world is uncomfortable with moving sermons. They hurt too much, and we do not like pain.

This age could be called the “Tylenol Generation.” “Preacher don’t hurt me, just soothe me!” Conviction is a foreign word to some ongregations. They avoid it like the measles. But conviction is not a virus, it is a gift.

I feel the pressure to avoid it in my own pulpit. It is one of the signs of the time. These modern attitudes say, “Don’t touch here, leave me alone there, don’t bother me about this, go preach about that…” and on it goes.

Painless Christianity is powerless Christianity. Convicting preaching brought the church to where it is, and will keep it in the straight and narrow.

Jeremiah likened the word of the Lord to fire and a hammer (Jeremiah 23:28,29). Both of these comparisons indicate that the Word of God is more than something to soothe. Paul stated the Word to be quick and powerful, like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).

Peter preached a confrontational message on the day of Pentecost. The hearers were “pricked in their hearts” (Acts 2:37). In the original, the word that is interpreted “pricked” means they were thoroughly pierced and agitated violently. True Bible preaching will confront, pierce and agitate. When a person feels the conviction of a Gospel
message he should be thankful for being moved to realize the need of change.

Pharaoh asked Moses to pray for him several times. Pharaoh wanted relief, not a remedy. He wanted a change of symptoms not a change of heart.

The problem with the “Tylenol Generation” is found on the back of most over-the-counter pain relievers. It usually says, “for the temporary relief of pain associated with…” Then somewhere in the instructions there is another statement that will say, “If symptoms persist, contact a physician.” Some just want the symptoms to go away, not a cure. The smoker wants to get rid of the cough, not the cigarette. The party animal wants relief from the hangover, not a change in life-style. The drug abuser wants relief from the habit, not the high.

The world needs to hear the Word of God preached so that the disease of sin is treated, not just the symptoms. The treatment is sometimes painful. There are tears involved. Godly sorrow brings repentance, and repentance pleases God. Repentance will lead to baptism in the name of Jesus. Baptism will lead to receiving the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost heals the disease of sin. It is not just temporary relief, but a cure!

Having painless church services will create Christians with no consciousness of sin, which are really not Christians at all. These pampered parishioners will not stay for any reproving messages. Pentecost went beyond the 120 only because a preacher “pierced and agitated” the hearers until they were motivated to repent. Without preaching, the day of Pentecost would have only been a crowd. The crowd became Christians only because of convicting preaching. Some “feelgood” churches only have a crowd.

Crowds show up at games and races. The difference in a crowd and a church is vast. Crowds have no convictions and are easily swayed to become a mob. The church on the other hand has Word-based convictions and is led by God-ordained leaders.

Conviction is not our enemy, it is a gift from God.