Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What kinds of things need to happen in someone’s conversion to Christianity? It might sound strange to ask such a question, but one look at the state of the church today and it just might be the question to be asking.
It’s a little perplexing to see so many people claim Christianity as their religion yet hardly ever step foot in a church or open a Bible—at least that’s what some of my believing and non-believing friends say. Or, if they are church attenders, many live Monday through Saturday as if that religion is practically irrelevant to their daily life—again, I hear this from believers and non-believers alike. It sounds a little judgmental, doesn’t it? Maybe even condemnatory. Perhaps it does, so I apologize, as that’s not the intent. But I feel I can wade into these waters in this post because I am speaking from personal experience as having once been the object of these criticisms. A poster-child of sorts.
It took me 23 years of pseudo-Christian lostness before I spiritually activated. What I mean by that is I believed all the right things about God, Jesus and the Bible, yet lived as if it were only head knowledge, because, for me, it was. Come to find out, I even lived contrary to many of the Christian teachings, some unknowingly. Christianity was an insurance policy for the way I wanted to live my life.
But I spiritually activated when I converted to a scriptural form of Christianity as reflected in a commitment to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ (see What is the Discipleship Deficiency?). Am I perfect? No. Am I the best disciple who ever lived? No. Have I arrived? No. Do I make mistakes, even big ones? Yes. Do I willfully sin? At times. But where once I was spiritually zombified, my spirit is awake. When I converted, I activated.
But what was it about my conversion that caused such a change in my life? Similarly, ask any preacher’s kid when he finally spiritually activated in his walk with God, who grew up in the church. Many will admit that they went to church just because their dad was the preacher, and they knew and went through all the Christian motions, but their hearts weren’t in it until later in life when they finally became serious about it and owned it for themselves.
Ownership. Now there’s a term to remember. I just love the MacMillan Dictionary definition:
an attitude of accepting responsibility for something and taking control of how it develops
And ownership brings activation. Isn’t it only when you personally own something that you cultivate it, take care of it, watch out for it, grow it, keep it safe, healthy, and operational? If you don’t own it you are not as interested, because it’s not yours, right? Isn’t this at least in part the lesson Jesus was teaching when he said
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:12-13)
What if that thing you choose to own is your individual, personal discipleship walk with Jesus Christ? Ownership brings activation. It wasn’t until I understood that I had to own my personal discipleship walk with Jesus that I activated in my faith. It wasn’t until I saw what that literally meant that I was able to take steps to walk in it. This happened in my conversion.
So back to the original question, but now with some added emphasis:
What kinds of things need to happen in someone’s conversion to help them come into a living, healthy, and growing personal discipleship walk with Jesus Christ? The kind that will offer them the least temptation to give up and return to the old way of self? The kind that will offer them the best foundation to grow and live successfully as disciples of Jesus? There are many. But sticking with the theme of this post—ownership brings activation.
In a healthy, biblical conversion, there will be a transfer of conviction in various areas to the one being converted. Concerning ownership, the conviction is a real ownership of what it means to follow Jesus as his disciple, and that ownership brings activation (see In the Dust of the Rabbi). I always keep it in mind that if I can help someone truly own the conviction to follow Jesus in a discipleship walk, he will naturally activate. It’s the natural thing to do.
Who buys a new car only to let it sit in the garage and never drive it? Who buys a new shirt only to let it hang in the closet and never wear it? Who buys a pizza only to let it sit on the table and not eat it? Who buys in to follow Jesus as his disciple only never to take another step after him in discipleship once salvation is secured?
Ownership brings activation. A conversion that includes the transfer of ownership of the daily discipleship walk with Jesus Christ brings activation into that walk for the one being converted, and life will never be the same again.
Let’s hear from you: What are some of your ideas of how you would transfer an ownership that brings activation while leading someone to Christ? The comments are open…