In ministry and elsewhere, I have witnessed some powerful, lasting conversions. Some have been religious, and some not; but these conversions have something in common: they are relational, incarnational, and vocational. Put another way, lasting conversion is not just knowledge, but knowing; it is not apart from us, but a part of us; it does not draw us out of this world, but sends us more deeply into it.
In matters of faith or personal conviction, we also remain ourselves as we change. Martin Luther interpreted Paul’s analogy of death and rebirth in Romans not as a once-in-a-lifetime event, but a daily process—a daily dying and rising in Christ. A lasting conversion is a daily conversation, sometimes one that occurs moment by moment. The person we are is still found within the person we become.
Challenges, opposing views, and new considerations are healthy partners for a conversion that sticks. Far from setting us apart from ourselves or from others, conversion becomes a part of us, guiding our engagement in the world around us.
This message is excerpted from “Making conversion stick” by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni in the January/February 2015 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate the Conversion of Paul. Today is the last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
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