As I sit across my friend each week I continue to be amazed. For weeks I have been discipling him and each time we meet he seems more hungry for God. His insatiable appetite for Scripture is amazing. His prayers are as powerful as a little boy asking his dad for a hug, his desire to tell co-workers about Jesus is inspiring! He is my age but his hard living has aged his body well beyond his biological years. As a teenager, he met the wrong crowd, as an adult his decisions led him to prison, but on a Sunday morning in September his life was radically changed by the power of Jesus Christ. At 43, his scars are inward and outward but his soul is free indeed and it shows. His words to me on that Sunday morning were simple and profound, “My way doesn’t work, I need Jesus.” At that altar, this ex-con finally stepped out of his spiritual prison and every thing changed. Each week we meet and read the Bible together and my heart is blessed by his hunger for more of Christ. From sinner to saint, slave to free, wretched to righteous he is as Paul said, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
My conversion was not near as dramatic but yet equally powerful, so was yours. As a matter of fact, every sinner that comes home incites a heavenly praise service. “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:10). Angels do not personally understand the power of conversion because they have no need of it, yet they erupt into glorious elation when the population of heaven increases. So should we. My friend hasn’t gotten over his conversion, he is so excited. He is in awe of a God that forgives, in awe of a messiah who shed his blood for him. He can’t get over the fact that God never gave up on him and saved him to the uttermost. May his tribe increase! Maybe the problem with many churches is that they are filled each Sunday with people who have lost touch with the power of their conversion. So many people eventually just settle in to being a “good Christian” or a “loyal church member.” While those are admirable qualities, the world doesn’t need our church membership. They don’t just need to see us being good Christians. The world needs us to be people of passion. People whose lives have been radically changed by Jesus and refuse to get over it. People who are daily living the power of their conversion.
Maybe we get over it because we forget the miracle of a converted soul. It doesn’t just make us better people, it makes us new people. The old dies and a new creation is birthed. It doesn’t just cause us to be nicer or more moral. It doesn’t just change the way we live tomorrow, it changes our eternal destination. And for that to take place, let us not forget what God has done to provide us the opportunity. Philippians 2:6-8 reminds us that he laid aside his eternal rights making himself nothing, becoming a slave to humanity and dying a criminals death. He took our place, encumbered our transgressions, became a recipient of divine judgement and suffered the shame of shames. Maybe like David many of us need to pray, “Restore to me again the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:12). Don’t settle in a place of spiritual comfort, don’t grow content with being a “good Christian.” God wants so much more from your life than that. Aren’t you glad Paul didn’t leave the Damascus road, find a local church and settle in? Aren’t you glad that the disciples didn’t leave the Mount of Olives after the ascension and settle for a life of contentment? How thankful are we that Philip went to Samaria and Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin? Are we replicating the power of our conversion to a culture who is inwardly desirous of something more than what they see?
Yes, I am asking you to be more like a 43 year old ex-con who still battles personal demons. Hunger for spiritual growth, pray like a child talking to daddy, be bodacious in telling people the reason for your hope (1 Peter 3:15) and never, never allow yourself to grow content. For the atheists in our society who continually asks for proof of God’s existence, I would like for them to meet my friend. There is no other way to explain the glorious change. His transformation is too radical to be man made or intellectually induced. Beloved, don’t you ever, ever lose sight of the power of your conversion. For the same power that raised Christ from the dead has converted your soul, fashioned you for heaven and now lives in you. (Romans 8:11).