HOW TO CHANGE
In my last blog, I noted that the key to change is changing what you’re most convinced of in your life. That is to say, there is a connection between what you believe and what you’re most convinced, and the behaviors that flow out of those beliefs and convictions. I provided a Control Feedback Loop visual aid to help us see how this process works, and how the cycles continue.
Here, I want to propose the core and most elemental conviction or belief that will, once it’s taken root, begin to transform your ‘control issues’, and fundamentally shape your life for the better. The core conviction and belief is The Gospel. Specifically, the death and resurrection of Jesus. The degree to which we are convinced of this will shape the degree of our ‘control issues’ Previously, under our old pattern (denoted in the Visual Aid in Part 1), we have an innate need to control things or others around us. Under The Gospel, however, rather than needing to control others, we find ourselves controlled by Christ.
We go from us controlling others to Christ controlling us. You might wonder, how exactly does Christ ‘control us’ and where is there biblical justification for this idea?
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV)
A CHANGE IN WHAT CONTROLS US
The greek transliterated term of control is synechō which means to hold together with constraint to compress; to press on every side. Think of cattle getting bottled-necked into an entrance/exit where the cattle are pressed in on every side, forced into of each other in a certain direction. In this sense, the love of Christ controls or compels us. You might wonder, compels us toward what, exactly? The answer to this questions rest in the context of the chapter. The most immediate takeaway rests in a previous statement (verse 11), “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.” The aim of the control of the love of Christ on us is simply to persuade others of The Gospel.
The more we ourselves are persuaded by the truth of The Gospel, the more changes we will see in the contours in the way we relate. Specifically, we gradually grow out of our need to control others and grow into our love of others. The power that under-girds the synechō of the love of Christ is our conviction of the death and resurrection of Christ.
A CHANGE IN CONVICTION
So often we are convicted by the wrong thing. When someone offends us or we see an injustice in some way, we feel we must act in a manner that seeks to correct the record, and usually in a way that makes us feel better. Sometimes we even act in a ways that give an appearance of holy conviction, doing things for which we give God credit, but when examined more closely, are anything but holy.
Another term we need to consider in our analysis concerns the transliteration krinō which is translated conviction or convinced. Strong’s definition renders this concept to distinguish both in our mental faculties (e.g. how we concluded something our mind) and judicially (e.g. what is decreed based on what our legal obligation toward what was accurately judged). In this sense, it either categorically true that Christ rose from the dead or it isn’t – there is no in between. Paul is convinced of the former, and therefore out of this conviction, is compelled (synechō) by love of Christ to act in a manner consistent with that love.
A CHANGE IN OUTCOME
If you’re unaware of the why The Gospel is so important, then turning ahead for more context of Paul’s letter, we learn that a key outcome or resolution of belief in The Gospel is one of a new personal standing before God. This standing is one of righteousness. Our being sinners who sin is our previous standing. Having the righteousness of God is the new standing. All of this is made possible because of The Gospel.
When we realize the need for a gospel narrative in the first place, then we will understand not only why it makes sense we would want to be controlled by the love of Christ, seeking to persuade others of The Gospel, but our understanding of our sinfulness and need for righteousness will fundamentally change how we relate; namely, we give up our need to control. The ‘control issue’ that gives rise to our problem will, overtime, fade.
A Visual Aid
This visual aid is designed to us picture this process:
Firstly, The truth of The Gospel is our core belief or conviction (krinō).
Secondly, Our core belief drives us to behave and live for Christ.
Thirdly, The love of Christ controls/compels (synechō) our behaviors.
Fourth, Christ-likeness is the outcome of this way of life.
A CHANGE IN HEART
As the heart changes, so goes our life. The core belief of our heart will set the whole course of our life for the good or the worse. For the person who recognizes that their need to change their life; namely, their need to control other or things, will find hope in looking at The Gospel and considering its narrative. If The Gospel is true, then it is worth considering the implications for a total life transformation. I propose that as the heart believes more and more the truth of The Gospel, and is convinced of its truthfulness, the more and more we will give up our ‘control issues’ so as to be controlled by that which is good, right and best, the love Christ.
This two-part series was based in part on a sermon preached by Pastor Tom Holiday at Alexandria Presbyterian Church. You can listen to the sermon HERE.