Tag Archives: Conversion

Don’t Quit

When I read a novel, I tend to skip those little quotes and  poem thingies at the beginning of the chapters.  Most of the time I don’t understand them; they leave me confused and feeling ignorant.  I want to say, “Enough with these inscrutable quotes! Let’s get on with the story, already.”  There are sections of the Bible that make me restless, too. In the final paragraphs of Colossians (Colossians 4:7 ff), Paul gives final greetings and instructions to specific people that don’t seem to mean much to me, 2000 years later. 

But this morning, as I read those verses, I was struck by how passionate and unstoppable Paul was.  His last few sentences are filled with words like “struggle,” “encourage,” “fellow workers,” sending,” etc.  The last verse reads:

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.  –  (Colossians 4:18)

Very likely, Paul dictated most of his letters because he had a physical handicap with his eyes.  Also, he was chained up as a prisoner. He had two good excuses to give it a rest.  But he was absolutely consumed with the urgency of telling people about Jesus.  As he wrote earlier in the letter,

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.  (Colossians 1:29)

What’s the deal?  Why was Paul so passionate?  My guess is it had a lot to do with his being personally visited by Jesus as he traveled to Damascus (see Acts 9:1 ff).  Jesus showed up, blew his mind and changed his whole outlook.  So Paul had first–hand proof Jesus knew where he was and what he was doing.

Well, so what?  What’s that have to do with us? There is a good chance that Jesus has personally visited you with proof of Who He is and has changed your whole outlook, too.  Maybe He didn’t blind you with intense light, but if you reflect on what He did do, the circumstances that led to your personal conversion, you will probably see they were arranged for you. Your Savior knew where you were and what you needed.  He still does.  He also knows what He has equipped you to do. Let the truth of that motivate you. Tell others how wonderful it is to know and follow Jesus.

But, maybe you have not experienced such a personal “visit” from Jesus.  If so, and if you are open to it, let down your defenses and pay close attention.  Jesus will show up in a way that will rock your world.  You can count on it because He knows you, loves you, and knows what you need.

In Your Midst

Whose invasion would be more dangerous: George Patton or The Body Snatchers?  Full on military assault or silent and subtle takeover, one person at a time?  If you said, George Patton, maybe you haven’t seen The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  The aliens, at first glance, looked just like everybody else. Their invasion was subtle and gradual, not a frontal blitzkrieg.  It was multiplied as each human was mutated and then in turn infected others. Scary business.  Even Donald Sutherland couldn’t hold them back.

I pose the question because Jesus said He would establish His Kingdom on earth, that the Kingdom was at hand, but it’s been 2000 years and nothing much seemed to happen.  Maybe you wonder, “If Jesus came to bring in the Kingdom of God, where is it?   This world is run amuck with murderous morons and merchants of greed.  For many, the world is awash in despair.  If this is His Kingdom, I’m not sure it is very attractive or even safe.”

Jesus faced the same skepticism right from the beginning.  Frustrated under the cruel oppression of the Romans, most of the people expected a George Patton type of Savior.  They wanted Jesus to be a powerful, conquering hero.  When asked how long they would have to wait, Jesus replied:… “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”  (Luke 17:20b-21)

At first glance, you may not realize how widespread and influential the Kingdom has become.  But look closer.  When people were transformed by the body snatchers, they looked the same at first glance, but had become emotionally dead.  The Kingdom of Jesus spreads like that but with the opposite effect.  People who trust Jesus are transformed and suddenly find new life, discovering how dead they had previously been.  Instead of being enslaved by snatchers they are set free in Christ to live an abundant and eternal life.  There’s no cannons, tanks, flags and trumpets, but one by one, as each person comes to and “Aha!” realization of the identity of Jesus, His kingdom expands.

Unfortunately, Christians have, throughout history, attempted to convert people by force (think, the Crusades) and by manipulative human methods.  These have done more harm than good.  But they have not stopped the steady, silent and subtle advance of the real Kingdom.  As Jesus said,

…”The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”  (Matthew 13:33b)