“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
The process of conversion is the greatest miracle of our times. A dramatically changed life, as Augustine knew, is the most powerful testimony there is……an external change, something supernatural we can explain in no other way but through God alone. Jesus called it being “born again.”
“But you, O Lord, used the changes lives of other men and women like a mirror to keep turning me around to face myself. You set me in front of my own face so that I might see how deformed, how crooked and sordid and stained and ulcerous I was. Horrified, I turned and tried to run from myself–only to find that you were there, too, thrusting me in front of myself. You wanted me to discover my iniquity and hate it, because it bound me and kept me from going with you.” Augustine, Confessions 8
If you want to read about a powerful conversion, read the Confessions of Augustine; read the Apostle Paul’s from the book of Acts. Both dramatic and full of passion, but no less so than every one of us who has come to that moment when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they must go through that door, and there is no stopping it. In my own Baptist tradition, we made a public confession of faith through a walk down the aisle in the church, also known as the “altar call”, and then again in Baptism. It is powerful, it is heartrending, and the nearest to Heaven that we will ever be this side of it. It is the most miraculous and most important moment in one’s life. The Bible says that angels in Heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents, either in front of a church or in their own car going down the road!
I have noticed a curious thing happening in several churches of my own evangelical tradition in recent years. When it comes to that time of decision there is curiously no more walk down the aisle. For me this has always been the most important moment in the church service. You remember your own walk, and you want to encourage others so you stand and clap for them as the praise team or choir gets back up to close the service. And when you see one of your own make that walk…….you can’t even describe it. Goosebumps all the way.
Some churches have changed this to a quiet moment of all heads bowed and a raising of hands for those who wish to “make a decision” to follow Christ. Is this something we are now ashamed of that we need to do without others eyes upon us? When did it become something we need to be embarassed about? Everyone Jesus called was called publicly. Should it still be the same today? Can you imagine Peter asking everyone to bow their head and raise their hands without anyone else looking? Why are certain churches treating this great miracle of conversion, this most joyous and radical thing into something to be done in secret?
Jesus was born, lived and died a terrible death very publicly so that we could be born again into new life. Shouldn’t we be just as open about confessing Him? I don’t want to step on any toes here, and I do want to be sensitive, but I welcome your thoughts.
What are some of your own church traditions/teachings on this?
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32
Counting thanks in my heart today……time is pressing!