Don’t really know why the word popped off the page this morning (though I have my suspicions . . . an encounter of the divine kind, perhaps?). But it did. A word that I’m thinking doesn’t really play all that well in today’s culture. Thirty or forty years ago, in the circle of believers I hung with, it was used frequently, matter-of-factly, like it was just the right way to talk about what happened to us. But don’t really think I hear it used much any more.
Instead we tend to talk more about coming to Christ, receiving Christ as Savior, or entering into a relationship with Christ. Rarely, at least it seems to me, do we talk about our conversion to Christ.
So, being sent on their way by the church, [Paul, Barnabas & Co.] passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.
(Acts 15:3 ESV)
The conversion of the Gentiles. That’s what popped this morning.
A bit of online concordance work and you find out it’s the only time in Scripture conversion is used, though there are a couple of other references to converts. But if you dig a bit deeper, and look up the Greek words behind conversion and converts, you find the original word used around 40 times. And most often it’s translated as turn.
That’s what conversion is, a turning. That’s what a convert is, someone who’s turned. Isn’t that, as believers, what we are? Turners?
Those who have turned from darkness to light. Who have turned from following the way of the world to seeking first the kingdom of God. Who have turned from worshiping idols we’ve created to worshiping the One who created us. Who have turned from faith in ourselves to faith in Christ Jesus.
And aren’t we to continue to turn? Having been converted in the past, isn’t sanctification about being converted in the present? As the Father, by the Spirit, continues His work of conforming us to the likeness of the Son (Rom. 8:29), shouldn’t we still be turning? I’m thinkin’ . . .
Turning more and more into people who do life with the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, and for the glory of Christ. As we get increasingly familiar with the things of heaven, finding our priorities turning increasingly away from the things of earth. As we learn, day by day, the dynamics of walking in the Spirit, turning progressively away from our reliance on our flesh.
We’re converts. We’ve been converted. We should be bold to speak of our conversion.
Our conversion past, present, and, praise God, future. When, one day, we’ll be converted from earthly bodies to heavenly bodies. When what was born perishable, when raised, turns imperishable. When what was once sown in dishonor, converts to an unimaginable glory. The weakness of the dying flesh turning into the power of resurrected bodies. Our current natural body, undergoing a conversion into a spiritual body (1Cor. 15:42-44).
It seems to me that if there is anyone who should not be characterized by stagnation, it’s the believer. Converts of Christ. Those who have undergone a conversion. Who continue to go through a conversion. Those who anticipate, soon and very soon, a final and forever conversion.
Turn, turn, turn.
By His grace. For His glory.