“Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled.” (I Peter 3:14)
The sun had just come up and I wanted to get out in the backyard to water my flowers before the day’s heat began rising with it. I started to open the sliding doors of the sunroom. That was when I encountered him. He was on the outside of the doors. I on the inside. When he spotted me; he stopped and raised himself up to confront me. The hair on his back stood up. His beady little eyes widened. His stare sent a warning to me that I was not to open that door. His intimidation was strong and clear. There we stood – face to face. Who was going to win? His domain on the outside, or my invasion of his domain? I stood there for a moment, and then I reached and unlocked the door. It was at that point that my challenger ran off. I have to tell you that I have never seen such menacing chipmunk in my life!
The world is full of menacing chipmunks. People who want to control us with their intimidation and domineering behavior. If we don’t conform to their standards, something is wrong with us. If we don’t agree with their values, we have a problem. So, they make harassing efforts to pressure and bully us into agreeing with their distorted philosophy and beliefs.
How does a Christian handle this sort of browbeating? In order to deal with people like this, it is important that we are secure in two things: First, we need to be certain that we not only know WHAT we believe, but WHY we believe it. Only drawing our conclusions of scripture and God’s commands from what we have been taught in church, Sunday School, or Vacation Bible School, won’t cut it. Those teachings only tell us WHAT we ought to believe. We need to pray and meditate on WHY we believe them. Second, we need to evaluate our beliefs by asking ourselves if they are CONVICTIONS for us, or merely PREFERENCES. Having a preference means we may favor or agree with something, however we can be swayed to disagree with it also if someone gives us a convincing argument. Sometimes our preferences are controlled by our emotions. A conviction is a committed belief that we place absolute confidence in. We cannot be swayed from being firmly convinced of it by any reasoning or argument.
As we make our way through a world that is now filled with lies and declining principles, it is essential that each of us searches our own heart to determine if we truly know why we believe the teachings of God’s words. Is it because someone told us to believe them, or are they tenets that we embrace as truth? It is then essential that we determine in our hearts as to whether or not these truths are a conviction to us, or if they are merely preferences that can easily be swayed by others, the news we listen to, books we read, or the You Tube videos we watch.
As Christians in an ever-changing world, we need to get our beliefs solidified. We never know when we might encounter a very intimidating chipmunk!