“Stan,” I began, “there’s something that really confuses me about some of the people in my church.”
“What’s that?” Stan replied.
“There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between some of them and the people I know who never go to church. Shouldn’t there be a difference?”
“Good question, my friend,” Stan replied. “And I have an answer based on someone I know very well.”
Continuing, he said, “First of all, I think you’re right in thinking there is to be a difference. For me, and I suspect this applies to at least some of the people you are talking about, there was not a difference that could be seen.”
“I was still attracted to at least some of the same things of the world as I was before I became a Christian. If you looked at me on the outside, there wasn’t much difference to be seen. Maybe none from what I was like before conversion.”
“Kind of like,” he continued, “the story I heard once about a bank robber who became a Christian and said, ‘Now I’m going to be a Christian bank robber!’ That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
“No,” Stan added, “this is what discipleship and transformation are all about. If there’s no difference in my life after I have been converted, something is very wrong.”
“Such as what?” I asked.
“Maybe a false conversion,” Stan replied. “Or maybe it’s just the very common condition of being stuck on conversion. Failing to begin down the road heading toward greater spiritual maturity.”
“Or,” he added, “there can be a beginning down that road but, for whatever reason, a blockage has occurred and the person just hasn’t proceeded any further. As a general matter, I don’t think there’s the same answer for every person.”
“Yeah,” I responded, “I guess we are all different, even in how serious we are in our relationship with God.”
“Different indeed!” Stan said. “But we all have the same basic source to grow in that relationship.”
“What source?” I asked.
“The Holy Spirit,” Stan replied. “Again, with me as the example, the seed of transformation was planted in me the moment of my conversion. It was the seed of the Holy Spirit, but His role in my life could not grow to make an external difference until I was willing to give Him total freedom to do His work in me.”
“As I chose to walk in the world just as before, there was no difference that anyone could see. The same was true as long as I tried to walk with one foot in the world. It was only as I chose to surrender all of me, all of the old self, to the Holy Spirit and His leading that He was able to do what He is in me to do.”
“And,” Stan concluded, “it’s a matter of continual choice. For there to be a difference that others can see, the difference of the manifestation of Christ, I have to choose who is going to rule in my life. And it’s a choice that has to be made each day, each hour, each minute.”
“If I know God the Father and His Son, or if I am at least on the path to knowing them, my life is to be, and will be, different from those who do not know them and are not even trying.”
That each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God. 1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you have provided me with the Holy Spirit to live in me to help, counsel, and guide me in how I am to live differently than before I became yours. I confess that too often there is no difference between me and those who are not seeking to know you. Please forgive me of that hypocrisy. And please lead me, helping me to follow, in choosing to allow you to have total and free rule in every aspect of my life so I live the difference you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Being stuck on conversion is not uncommon. It’s not what God wants, but it’s not uncommon. If there is not now a whole lot of difference in your life than what it was before conversion, do you need to take a look to see why? Is something missing? Is it the commitment to seek transformation that will lead in the direction of spiritual maturity? What does it look like to be constantly seeking a deeper relationship with God?