When Jesus wanted to be sure His disciples knew His identity, He asked them: “who do men say I am?” Their response varied. “Some say you are a prophet, others say you are Elijah…” and so on they responded to Jesus.
He then asked them, “who do You say I am?” To this second question, only Peter proffered an answer. Before I look at the answer, let’s look at the other 11 disciples who didn’t give an answer.
Why was it easy for them to repeat what they had heard others say but couldn’t bring themselves to admit what they were thinking?
Our focus today is Personal Conviction. The most important and powerful decisions and conclusions we reach should be based on our personal conviction and never on public consensus, but the 11 disciples didn’t come through when the question was put to them.
Is it possible that they left all to follow Jesus without a conviction of His identity? I doubt this is the case. However, maybe their convictions were determined by the consensus, so when Jesus didn’t affirm that the consensus answers were correct, they became vulnerable to saying the wrong thing- Just maybe!
Since I cannot hold forth for why they didn’t respond, maybe I should tell you why I won’t respond to Jesus if I was in their place. I will not be bold to respond for one reason only, and it will be that my answer isn’t popular or logical. Most of us don’t push our convictions because they might be unpopular or illogical. We don’t stand for our convictions because others who don’t agree are more and have the machinery to drown our voice, so we do the easy thing- we keep quiet.
We don’t stand for our convictions because we might be seen as freaks and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. So we keep quiet.
But not Peter! Peter, the one known as impetuous to some, jumped in and replied, “thou are the Son of God!” Boom! Jesus responds “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you… Upon this rock, I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Peter went to a place most people wouldn’t go because it was bound to be uncomfortable! Peter’s answer didn’t make sense, how can a man be the son of God? But that was Peter’s conviction, so he stood by it!
“Thou art Petras”, Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon (Reed) to Petras (Rock). Men with personal convictions stand strong. They are not easily swayed by the wind; they stand by their convictions. Peter did exactly that!
Nigeria just finished her elections and despite the general consensus that Nigeria will disintegrate, we still stand. We stand because, for the first time in a long time, Nigerians put the consensus aside and stood by their convictions. These convictions brought some to loss and yet others to victory. In the end, we all retired to our corners because we could recognise that this was one of those rare times when Personal Conviction trumped Public Consensus.
So what is wrong with popular? What is wrong with Consensus? Actually nothing! The little issue is, who is responsible for the consensus? Where did it take its root from? Who are the custodians of the consensus? When it comes to the public, the answer is everyone, and this actually means no one!
Back to Jesus’ answer, “flesh and blood has not revealed this.” Conviction, on the other hand, is given by someone higher or ‘something’ deeper than meets the eye and this higher and deeper is what we all struggle not to have to explain, so we join the consensus where a trace is impossible.
As Leaderpreneurs and dream chasers, it is critical that we have our personal convictions. It is important that there is something to stand for even if that something is uncomfortable. So tell me, what are your convictions?
Today, I am proudly Nigerian because conviction is finally finding its way back to the fore, as a pillar we can build on and be sure we have a strong building. Builders, beware, however because your convictions today can easily become the consensus tomorrow. In which case, it will become a distorted version of the truth instead of Petras – the Rock. Something we are willing to stand by regardless of who isn’t standing with us.
Convictions form the spine of the man and convictions are based on our understanding of the identity of the man. His Beliefs, his behaviour and his values all form this identity. In the end, the man who knows who and whose he is will not be afraid to stand alone. So how are standing? Alone or with everyone else?
Tell me did I confuse you?
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