Monday, May 31, 2010

stuff

I had one of those moments in the car today. I parked in the driveway, turned off the car and the radio and just sat there enjoying the precipitous drop in the decibal level. After a few moments of peace, I snatched a book off of the floorboard that I had been planning on giving away. The title was "The Coffeehouse Gospel" and I hadn't remembered it being particularly good the first time around, but I was bored so I flipped it open.
I read about relational evangelism and sharing your story with others. It flipped a switch. I have been reluctant to share my story with other people and I realized why. First, I have now been a follower of Christ for about a decade. So the freshness of conversion and the rapidity of life change has faded. It has been replaced by something different, and in many ways the changes now are deeper changes. God has been affecting my heart and my character more than my behavior. But still, what is happening now is not the story of conversion or rebirth. And as the vividness of that particular set of memories fades, so too does the perceived impact of the related story appear to diminish. So I don't share it, searching instead for some philosophical or cultural argument to convince people. It's exhausting trying to be Tim Keller to every unbeliever you meet.
Second, as I referred to earlier, I had begun to view my "story" as simply the tale of my conversion and rebirth. It might not seem like a big deal, but I think I was reflecting the attitude of a pharisee. When you pretend God's work in you has come to an end you are pretending to be perfect. I know I'm not perfect. That's why I call it pretending. My story is every bit happening today as it was in the year after Christ saved me by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing me back to God the Father.
At the risk of simultaneously over-reaching and deflecting blame, I think there is an aspect of contemporary evangelical Christianity that has contributed to this attitude. While it is entirely accurate theologically and practically to refer to conversion as salvation, it gives an incomplete picture of what is happening. It is true that we die to a life lived by the power of the flesh and are born again into a life lived by the animating power of the spirit. But there is an aspect of the Christian faith that is deeply rooted in hope. That is, we are waiting confidently with the expectation that God will fulfill his promises to us. That we will be raised, that we will be glorious, that we will be perfected. I think in some way that we can't understand at this point in history we will know then that our salvation is complete. At the risk of blaspheme this means that our salvation at this moment is incomplete. heathers home gotta go.

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