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The conversion experience became the goal of one religion in competition with another. Conversion became the overriding focus of evangelism and discipleship. Within Christianity each Christian is challenged to join the movement of God to convert everyone into becoming a Christian. So, Church members go to training courses to go into the communities and convert people. Missionaries were sent into action to go to the ends of the earth to convert every culture of the world to become Christians.
Jesus used a term that has been translated “convert” in a few translations. In Matthew Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) This term Jesus used is the word that means to turn, revolve, or turn around. It’s very similar to the word “repent”.
Who ever started the rumor that Christians must convert the world into Christianity? Jesus didn’t, so who started this frantic activity?
The conversion experience became equal to a supernatural salvation experience. In a sense, conversion could be a description of salvation, however there is only one problem. No human, no pastor, no super-spiritual person, no missionary, no Priest, Imam, or monk has the power to activate the salvation experience in a person’s life.
Nor could the conversion experience be activated into a salvation experience through a confirmation class, an altar call, a baptism, or standing up in a service and proclaim, “I believe”. You see the salvation experience cannot be instigated or triggered by any human. Salvation-the transformation of a person’s heart-can only be actualized by the grace of God.
When Jesus asked the disciples who they believed him to be, Peter said that he was God’s Messiah, the son of the living God. Jesus affirmed Peter’s answer as correct and blessed, yet Jesus cautioned Peter that he didn’t think up that answer on his own, nor did any person (flesh and blood) reveal this answer. Jesus went on to say that the only One who can possibly instigate or activate the transformation of a person’s heart is God, Himself. Followers of Jesus aren’t converts-the trophies of some religious, evangelistic effort. Followers of Jesus are best friends of Jesus. And, as those followers lean into Jesus with ears to hear and eyes to see, it is supernaturally revealed to them who Jesus is and who God is. This is genuine salvation-the inner transformation of a person’s heart before God.
How on earth could any person or group truly believe that God is waiting on them to change the world? God alone wants to transform the hearts of the world-one person at a time, beginning with you.