And when were you converted? I’ve been asked this question a few times. I don’t think this question is completely misguided. But it is off just a little bit. And here’s why. The underlying assumption behind this question is that our conversion is more of a “marker” than it is a “process,” a moment in time rather than a movement of life. Now, everyone’s story is a little bit different. God’s work looks different in each of us. But I’d like to look at Peter, perhaps the most famous of the twelve, and ask him this same question. Peter, when were you converted?
Was it when you were fishing by the
What about when you saw in Jesus something radically holy and “other” and life-giving and you fell to your feet and confessed your sins (Lk 5:8)? Is this when you were converted?
Maybe it was the moment you knew Jesus was the Messiah. After all, you were the first disciple to come to this realization (Matt 16:16). Is this when you were converted?
Or was it only after Jesus had been raised from the dead that your conversion was complete? After all, you denied him three times. You insisted that it was wrong for Jesus to suffer. But after Jesus was raised, when you saw the scars, only then did you tell Jesus plainly, “you know that I love you” (John 21:7). Is this when you were converted?
Maybe not yet. After all, you were gathered with the other disciples at Pentecost, when the Spirit descended and empowered the Church for her mission. That was the day you gave your first sermon (Acts 2:38), and you were so bold that people thought you were drunk! Surely then your conversion was complete?
Okay, enough with Peter. I don’t doubt that there are many important “markers” in our life with Jesus. But our conversion, which takes place as we learn to live in Jesus’ presence, is always a process. Conversion may have a beginning. Perhaps it begins when we finally decide to leave our nets. But most likely our conversion begins before we’re even aware that it has begun. After all, something had to be at work in Peter’s life for him to make the choice – on the spot – to leave his boat. And like all processes, our conversion has an end: “what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when Jesus is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). But in the meantime, we can rejoice in the knowledge that we are a work in progress – God’s work in progress. God has an eternity to convert us into whatever He wants us to be. Our Father is patient with us. Perhaps we should be patient with ourselves.
FOR TODAY: Conversion is more like a movement of life than a moment in time. Sure, we have some important moments – our baptism, for example, or the day that we say “I believe.” But until God is all in all, and God’s kingdom arrives on earth as it is in heaven, conversion is something that happens a little bit each day. And so allow God to work a small change in your character today. Over time, these changes can add up into something glorious.