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I’m continuing in our interruptive mode of the book of James with two more stories that help clarify what is meant by the Gospel or Good News of Jesus.
I was brought up to believe that Jesus wants all of his followers to be in a conversion mode. 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.
Whoever 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.
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.