measure their spiritual wealth by their converts. But these folks can become so focused on winning souls for Christ that they inadvertently may omit the spiritual fine
print. They don’t tell you that you have to work at your faith. Their focus is entirely on convincing non-believers to accept Jesus and get saved.
These evangelists characterize the Christian experience as a miraculous
transformation. Typically, at the end of their message, they issue an invitation to their audience to pray a prayer and ask Jesus to come into their hearts. And to be fair, in many cases, that’s all it takes. A person prays the prayer and their life is instantaneously, permanently and irreversibly changed.
But some new believers expecting the process to be instantaneous are disappointed. For these people, the change seems to be only temporary. They still have problems. They still struggle with sin. They begin to question the validity of their conversion. Things haven’t worked out as promised so they blame God. But they were rushed into making a commitment that they really hadn’t thought about. They didn’t really understand the prayer that they prayed.
Their conversion was more akin to a fast-food experience. They were told, “Pray the prayer, God comes into your life and all your problems go out the window. Pray the prayer and God will do the rest.” In a sort of a get rich quick spiritual scheme, these new Christians are told to sit back, enjoy the ride and be blessed by God
beyond comprehension. But when life’s troubles arise as they inevitably do (and are scripturally predicted), these people are disappointed, and perhaps embittered.
Eventually they may fall away from their faith. And they blame it on a god that failed
I believe that Christian conversion is absolutely miraculous. And I believe that it can be, but does not have to be, instantaneous. Or at least, the effects of the conversion may not be instantaneously visible. And I also believe that we are saved by God’s grace which we receive through faith.
But Christian growth is a process. You ask Jesus to come into your heart, declare yourself to be a Christian and promise to follow Him. The entire act of becoming a Christian takes a few seconds, at most. But you spend the rest of your life developing this relationship through a daily, if not hourly, step-by-step faith walk. You learn to give every single aspect of your life to Him. You stumble. And you begin the process again. This is the Christian growth process.
To be fair, anytime that the Creator of the Universe reaches out to mankind, then by definition a miracle has occurred. Having a relationship with the Creator of the universe is nothing short of miraculous. But an authentic Christian experience is, in reality, also lot of work. This is not to say that Christian salvation is based on our works. It’s not. We are saved by God’s grace; a free gift in the form of Jesus. But faith that doesn’t turn into action isn’t really faith.
God is ultimately responsible for the change that occurs in true Christians. But we have to cooperate and at times simply get out of His way. And letting God truly run our lives, giving it all completely to Him, is a daily, if not hourly challenge.
Humans want to control things. Giving your life to God means surrendering all control over it, and it goes against our nature. But the sooner you surrender, the sooner God can begin to change you into a new creature- less worry, less fear, less temptation, less anger, angst and all of the rest of the bad psyche stuff.
Christianity is a lifelong process of growth that occurs through the relinquishment of self to God. Some Christian proselytizers avoid this fine print. When their new converts realize that they still have problems, they may simply give up and move on to the next thing. The truth is that these folks intended to lead others to Christ, but led them only in the general vicinity of Christ. This is not to say that these new converts are not Christians and were not miraculously transformed. They were. They were transformed by God into new creatures as a result of their faith in Jesus. But as long as these new believers wait on a miraculous tangible experience, they will delay the heavy lifting and hard work that comes with the Christian process. Worse, they may even give up hope waiting for that miracle and eventually abandon their faith.
Jesus himself explained a long time ago that this would happen through his parable of the sower and the seed. People can hear about Jesus, but things in this life get in the way of a truly fulfilling spiritual experience. The truth is, you have to work at being a Christian. You have to work at your faith.
2 Corinthians 5.