What does it mean to "be converted," in the Christian sense? Here is a definition that I read yesterday that I think says it well. Conversion is not an act of moral self-improvement but rather,
"A complete reversal in one's way of life, a fundamental break with sin because it is sin. Conversion, however, can only be conversion when it bears a primarily religious character; that is, when we have learned to know sin - as God views it - in the light of his holy law, as it dishonors him and makes him angry."
We often think of conversion as moving from a point where we don’t have faith to a place where we very definitely have faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. It is easy to think of Christ as a Savior, as our Savior, and therefore saving us from our sins. This definition of conversion puts meat on the bones of what our sin is and how offensive it is to God.
The author of the definition, Herman Bavinck, then adds this:
"True conversion, accordingly, encompasses the whole person, including one's intellect, heart, will, soul and body. It makes one break with sin across the board and devote one's entire person and life to God's way and God's service."
Those words teach of how radically different our life is to be as one of Christ's own. Every part, "intellect, heart, will, soul and body" devoted to "God's way and God's service." Conversion means being attached more to God than to the things that separate us from Him.
Bavinck's words also remind me that conversion is both something that has happened in my life as a one-time event, and that it is also something that happens as an ongoing activity. As Christians, we are converted and we are also being converted. Our bond is with Christ, and as a result our intellect, heart, soul, will and body need to be continually shaped to be more and more in His image.
As one year draws to an end and a new one sits on the close horizon I am thankful to remember that God has saved me, and to also know that each day He is continuing to work on me.
Converted, and yet being converted, to the glory of God. Amen.