In my circles, the word “conversion” sort of has a bad reputation. I think that is because strange, power-hungry men (for the most part) have been in the mass media for decades prowling for conversions. People feel like it would be a sign of low self-esteem to give in to them – sort of like owning the Pocket Fisherman because you saw it on TV.
That’s too bad. Because conversion is a good word. It basically means an event that resulted in transformation. Maybe we don’t like getting coerced into conversion, but people yearn for transformation, and that is the essence of what relating to Jesus is all about. So maybe I don’t need to be “converted” in the worst sense of the word, but no matter how many people try to get me to accept myself just as I am, I long for the transformation God promises. The more of it I experience, the more I long for the fullness.
I got to thinking about conversion when I was sitting at breakfast yesterday with the members of Shalom House and their Guidance Team celebrating the entry of Kristen into the household. We told peacemaking stories. Many of them included the conversion it took to be committed to Christ’s way of peace. I needed to be converted to that even after I was a Christian! My father was in the Navy. My brother was in Vietnam. I enthusiastically voted for warmongers. My conversion was mainly due to an honest reading of scripture. When Paul talks about the armor of God he says to have “your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Eph 6:15). I don’t know why I would need to be a Christian at all if I have to undo Christianity so I can fit war into Christ’s peacemaking.
So I was encouraged by the Shalom House people.
As I was remembering them this morning, a flood of realization came to me. Last night at our PMs, I was surrounded by people who were experiencing conversion. Some of it was rather dramatic.
A person quit his high-paying and high-powered international job last week because he feels convicted to have a life in Christ.
A person risked her job to get off in time to get her family to the PM, now that they have just one car.
A person is making a covenant with the church, even though it goes against his grain to be so noticed and connected.
A person has been released from her former ambitions and is bravely looking into the brand-new future that is opening up before her.
Even as I am listing these conversations that all happened during the course of one evening, I realize that there are many more I could be listing — some small examples, some large. There is a lot of conversion going on. Knowing Jesus and being one of his people is changing people and allowing them to go with further change. I don’t know if transformation is breaking out, but I am glad to at least have my eyes opened to it a bit more. Are you noticing any conversion in your quadrants?