Journey to the Center

Sometimes as Christians, we get caught up in the idea that we made a decision to follow Christ at a specific point in our lives and now we are just waiting for Heaven. We forget that all of our time here on earth is a journey towards Christ. Before we consciously decided to give our lives to Jesus, He was working to bring us closer to Him and we were on a journey towards Him. After our moment of conversion, we began the next leg of our journey, learning what it means to follow Christ and following Him with all of our heart.

This week, I read this description of walking with Christ: “Our journey toward abundant living is like walking a spiritual labyrinth repeatedly, from an ever deepening inner space. We walk toward the center to be transformed by God’s love; then we walk outward to transform our small space in the world by reflecting God’s love. There is no intention to trick us or get us lost along the journey. But there is mystery. Always mystery. And awe. And amazing grace.”

When something is converted, it is changed from one thing to another. The definition of convert is 1. To change (something) into another form, substance, state, or product; transform: convert water into ice.

2. To change (something) from one use, function, or purpose to another; adapt to a new or different purpose: convert a forest into farmland. In both of these examples, this one-time conversion won’t stay converted without some kind of action. If you freeze water and it turns to ice, the moment it isn’t in the freezer it will turn back to water. If you chop down trees on land, but don’t do anything with it, eventually new trees will grow up there.

In other words, when we make a decision to follow Christ, something happens. And that is a big thing. We are converted. We are changed from one thing to another. From sinners to saints. From selfish to selfless. The Bible tells us that our sins are washed away, that we are transformed. But, it doesn’t stop there. We have to continue to live with Christ at our center. We have to, as it says in Philippians 2, work out our salvation. We don’t just continue to live as we always lived. If we did, no conversion actually happened. We have to allow God’s grace and mercy, through Christ, to act on us to continue to bring change into our lives. What often happens though is we allow ourselves to continue to be influenced by the world, more than by Christ. That is what makes our conversion, our transformation, more of a journey than a moment. That means our work is not done, but more importantly that God’s not done working on us. He is always looking to do something new in us and we must be looking for where He is at work and partner with Him on the journey.

This is not something we can do on our own. We can’t just decide to be better, to live better, to follow a prescribed way of life that will make us holier. We need power that is not our own to live the way we were meant to live. We need God’s Spirit at work within us in all areas of our life.

Take a look at this scripture from Ephesians 2:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

First I want to note what happens at that initial moment of conversion. I love the words in there that say “but God.” No matter what has happened before, God has now stepped in and it doesn’t matter anymore. “But God” comes and brings salvation, life, wholeness, grace, mercy and all righteousness. No Christian should ever see themselves as better than any other person because we have had a past that has been forgiven because of the “but God” moment in our lives as does every other Christian, and everyone who has yet to believe has that gift readily available to them as well. They can have their “but God” moment, too.

But it doesn’t stop there. Notice the last scripture—we are God’s workmanship—he is working on us, but not just for our good—for  the work that he has prepared for us. We weren’t saved just so we could say we are saved. We weren’t saved just so we can get to Heaven. We were saved to do the work of God.

And that is why conversion may begin at a specific moment, but is really a continual journey in our lives. Conversion is something that is always taking place. We are being transformed into the people of Christ. We are clay on the potter’s wheel, in the process of being shaped into something unique and one-of-a-kind. Something that has a specific purpose in the Kingdom of God.

This is why we cannot stop moving at the moment of decision to follow Christ. We have to continue to move. We have to learn what it means to follow Christ. We have to learn how to hear God’s voice instead of our own or the voice of our culture. We have to learn what His word has to say to us about who we are in Christ. We have to learn that we no longer are our own, but we were bought with a price. We have to learn that our conversion, while good for us, is not just for us. It is something to be shared. It is something that has far-reaching importance. As we move along the journey, we are to bring others along as well. Jesus tells us at the end of Matthew that we are to go and make disciples. As we become disciples of Christ and follow, it is our work to bring others along to become disciples of Christ as well.

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