This article is Part II. Part I of this article appears here.
Someone once said of William Penn's conversion: "Conversion must not be considered simply as a change of opinion. It penetrated his moral nature: it made him a new man. He was raised into another sphere and consciousness."
I've been thinking about the way that some of us evangelicals report so easily on "conversions." "So many accepted Christ," we say. "There were hundreds of conversions." Or, "We went on a short-term missions trip and planted dozens of churches." (I actually received a letter to that effect.)
But what do we mean? Is there evidence of life following that these people have been reached and moved? Have they been internally sorrowed for the sin that nailed Jesus securely in place till he accomplished our saving? Has the Spirit done his convicting and convincing work?
On the heels of these thoughts, I asked myself, And what about me? Do I report too glibly and extravagantly about our travels and evangelistic work abroad? Do we exaggerate the people's response to the ministry? I hope not.
There is a danger for those of us who hold a teaching post in mission or church of making too little of the nature of conversion as we instruct our classes and preach our sermons and share Christ. As I think of the opportunities afforded to us this last year that have taken us all over the world, I pray for the days ahead we would not compromise the message to make it more palatable. We all need to explain to those whom we influence (and we all have that circle) that conversion to Christ means knowing the victory of faith that overcomes ?the world that is within us and the world without."
Have we been guilty of teasing people into the Kingdom of God by telling them it's all about a "lot of fun" when it's all about a lot of "faith"? Do we soothe their apprehensions of paying a price - any price - by talking about an easy believism and a costless Christianity? Are we more intent on leaving a good impression than serving them truly by risking rejection or ridicule for the tough things that need to be spoken? These things are the essence of the world! Even in the church people struggle for power and control, prosperity and popularity.
Christ let all his glory honor and status go to do the will of his Father in Heaven that we could be forgiven. We need to be overwhelmed anew with the cross of Christ and the price he paid as he was "exceedingly reached" by our dilemma. Once that work is done in all of our hearts, a powerful ministry can begin.