Conversion

Back in the day when I was younger and more involved in the camp scene, we used to sing this song that I loved called “dwelling place”- The part I liked so much said, ” All the earth shall worship and sing unto Your name….every knee will bow..” I loved the imagery of people loving God and in my head I pictured LOTS and LOTS of people…stadiums full!
I got to thinking about this today when I was driving. Why are Christians so obsessed with converting people? I drove by a sign on the 400 that said, “LIFE” in huge letters and there was a GIANT Bible sculpture/structure beside it. How WEIRD is that? I tried to imagine if I wasn’t a Christian what I would think of that…well, I know what I would think of that- it’s ridiculous. I just don’t think people ever changed their minds from the words on a sign- I wondered what the intentions of the person who put up those signs.
So lets say that someone “converts” to Christianity- I HATE the word convert- because it makes following Jesus sound like a one time decision that a person makes and that’s that. But for the sake of the argument, lets say they convert. Then lets say that they join this whole mass of people that have suddenly “converted” to Christianity. If they become Christians or “convert” but their hearts don’t beat for the same things that Jesus was all about, than it makes absolutely NO difference whether or not “all the earth is worshiping and singing unto His name.” Yes, maybe the converts will feel “safer”, they’ll feel like they aren’t going to be tossed into the pits of hell when they die- but I don’t think the world becomes any better. For me, this is the major problem with Christianity- people do not understand that by deciding to follow Jesus, you are essentially agreeing to do your best to bring heaven to earth.
The concept of heaven and earth colliding and intersecting is really new for me- but when I heard about it, it made complete sense. Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is now.” God made the earth good- and one of the biggest tragedies of Christianity, is that we have come to let ourselves believe that heaven is this entirely different world/sphere/dimension and all we need to do to get there is say that little prayer and “let Jesus into your heart” – whatever the heck that means. I think that eventually, God is going to renew the earth and make all things that have been wronged by sin, right.But in the meantime, I think that we have the capacity to bring both heaven and hell to earth. Being a Christian is all about letting Jesus live through you, and living in a way that brings heaven to earth- and by that I mean – living out of love, grace, compassion- the way that God intended for us to live. Of course, we are not going to be anywhere near perfect, and we are going to struggle and be selfish a lot- but we’re human and God already knows all our failures- he knew them all in advance and still thought that it was worth it for you and I to be born. We can use our will, choice and lives to fight the structures that oppress people and bring hell to earth as well. In his book, the Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell talks about Rwanda and argues that the genocide there in 1994 was basically hell on earth..and it was preventable.
So, yes Christians are always trying to get people to join them, to increase the numbers of Christians in the world. Christians are all concerned about “saving peoples souls” – and yes, while I believe that you and I are in desperate need of saving, some of the kindest most loving people I know are not Christians at all. I want people to come to know Jesus because I want them to understand that they are loved, forgiven and created intentionally. But I have also come to understand that I want people to come to know Jesus so they can join in bringing heaven to earth, in making choices based on the life we are intended to lead- a life based on relationships not material stuff, of love not success, of equality not ability. I don’t want to “save” people from hell – I want people to help bring heaven here. Maybe I am being crazy judgemental in saying this, but maybe people don’t even really get the heart of Jesus if they don’t want to love in the way that he loved. And maybe, we aren’t being radical enough…Jesus wasn’t exactly a watered-down guy- maybe we need to start loving a little more radically. Maybe that is the first step of making things a little more heavenly around here.

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