Saturday, August 23, 2008

Conversion

From the Sociology of the Church:
Conversion is a turning from sin to Christ. Now, let’s think about that. Does conversion happen only once in a lifetime, or does it happen many times? That is the question, I believe, that needs answering.

From my experience, and from my understanding of the Bible and of Christianity, there are four kinds of conversion experiences. First, for a person totally outside the faith, there is an initial conversion experience, when that person comes to Christ for the first time. This kind of conversion has become the norm for everyone, unfortunately, even though it applies to relatively few Christian people.

Secondly, there is daily conversion. Each day, and many times during the day, we have to turn from sinful tendencies, and turn back to Christ. These “little turnings” are so many daily conversions. By magnifying the initial conversion experience, modern evangelism does not say enough about daily conversion.

Third, there are what I call “crisis conversions.” There are crisis points in every Christian’s life. At these crisis points, the Christian needs to reaffirm his or her faith by making a major break with some problem that has crept up, and make a major turn toward Christ.

Fourth, there are what I called “stage conversions.” By this I don’t mean conversions that are merely put on for show. Rather, I mean that God brings Christians through various stages of growth and maturity, and at each stage it is necessary for the Christian to come to a fuller understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

Now, I don’t think enough justice is done to this matter of stages of life. As a person grows, his understanding of himself, of the world, and of God will change, because he is himself changing. His understanding grows wider, and embraces more factors of life. He becomes aware of things he was not aware of before. Moreover, his understanding grows deeper, and more profound. Learning to adjust to a spouse, and then to children; learning to adjust to authorities on the job, and learning how to relate to subordinates; learning how to manage money; etc. — all of these things cause a person to deepen and widen his understanding. Hopefully, they cause a person to become more and more wise and stable.

These changes of understanding happen slowly and gradually, without our being aware of them, One day, however, we wake up and realize that we have changed. I am not the same person I was ten years ago, I realize. And my understanding of God and of His ways, of what it means to be a Christian, had better change too.My faith needs to deepen and broaden. Once again, I need to give all to Him, because my understanding of “all” has expanded. [source]

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