You tend to base your decisions on one of four motivations in life: circumstances, conveniences, criticisms or convictions. Yet, only decisions that are based on your convictions will last and leave a lasting legacy.
The people who have made the greatest impact on this world, for good or for bad, are those who have had the deepest convictions. They weren’t necessarily the smartest people, the brightest people, the most educated, the wealthiest or even the most famous.
If you’re going to build convictions, you need to build them on something that’s going to last. Everything changes. Fads change, fashions change. Psychology changes. Even science textbooks change. We keep learning more and more. There’s only one thing that never changes: the truth of God. If it was true a thousand years ago, it will be true today and it will be true a thousand years from tomorrow because God’s truth does not change.
The Bible says this in Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Saddleback Church has been built on six biblical convictions that are all based on God’s eternal Word. I’m willing to go to the mat for all six convictions. Here they are.
1. It’s all about God.
It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about profit, politics or anything else. It’s all about God. Until you understand that, life and ministry are never going to make sense. In Romans 11, the Paul wrote, “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory” (Rom. 11:36).
What’s the implication of that?
If it’s all about God, and it’s not all about making money or being popular or anything else the world thinks is important, then the implication is that it is more important to love God than anything else. It’s my very first priority. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
2. Only the church will last forever.
Nothing on earth will last forever—no business, government or nation. But the church will.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
A thousand years from today, there probably will be no United States of America. No nation lasts forever, no empire lasts forever. Where’s the Roman Empire today? Where’s the Greek Empire? A thousand years from today, there probably won’t be a Microsoft. A thousand years from today, even many of our good Christian organizations will be gone. Nothing man-made lasts. Nothing but the church.
I’ll give my entire life to serve the church—Saddleback and the global body of Christ.
That matters more to me than anything else in the world. All of our staff tithe their time. That means 10 percent of our time goes to help other churches. We’re not in this just for our church. Over the years, we’ve trained more than 400,000 pastors from 163 countries.
What does this conviction mean for you and me? If we’re all going to live together forever, we’d better get along. It’s not enough just to love God. You must love the church—despite all of our differences. The Bible says Christ died for the church: the whole church, anyone who has made Jesus Lord of his or her life.
Love is more important than personal differences in the family of God. Love is more important than political differences. We need to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. God expects me to love everybody else, too.
I don’t know if you see the pattern here, but it’s all about love. Life is not about the acquisition of things. It’s not about achievement. It’s not about popularity. It’s about learning how to love. If you miss that, you miss the lesson of life. God is love. And he says the most important thing is to love him. The second most important thing is in Mark 12: “The second most important commandment is love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
So who is our neighbor? That’s not a new question. It was asked right after Jesus said this. That’s when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. The short answer is everybody is your neighbor. There is nobody you’re allowed to not love on this earth.
That means you’re to love the unlovely, those who are different, difficult—and even dangerous. You’re supposed to love everyone.
It’s easy to love people who agree with you. It’s easy to love people who are cool. And it’s easy to love people who are safe. But God says that he wants you to take it even further. He says we’re to love even our enemies (Luke 6:35).
It’s tough to love people who are treating you poorly, or love someone who believes something totally antithetical to what the Bible teaches. But God says we’re to love even our enemies.