Discipleship Through Conversion
By: Sylvia Reynolds-Blakely
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV
Stop and think. Would you accept a lifelong job or assignment without knowing what you were supposed to do? Wouldn’t you ask, What's my job description? Who do I report to and how? How much will I be paid? I highly doubt you would be comfortable accepting that position without having your questions answered. You may even feel it necessary to speak to the boss's boss and negotiate terms, salary, vacation time, all before you finally said 'yes.'
Now picture becoming a Christian and not having the slightest clue about what following Jesus entails. It is a lifelong 'position' and yet many have no idea what they are stepping into. This happens more often than you'd think; I know because it happened to me. At twelve years old, I knew I loved Christ and I wanted Him to save me from a life of sin, but I had no real idea about my walk with Him beyond my walk out of the baptismal fount. Now, I can hear you saying, Yes, but many of the original disciples followed Jesus with very little explanation about what being a Christ follower entailed! But, He was Jesus so…
Ultimately, it is with a childlike faith in Jesus, a belief that He is the Son of God, and we are cleansed of our sins through His death and His resurrection, that turns us from sinners into becoming saved. Once we are saved though, we have a lifetime of living for Him which may look very different from what we were taught by the prosperity preacher or the semi-committed follower. Christ’s teachings, His commandments, His walk, and the walk of His earliest disciples IS the job description of a Christ follower. (Guess what? Despite what the lazy Christian told you, you were not saved for a life of comfort. Every day your spirit should be troubled for the souls of those around you. Just saying.)
In his wonderful book, A Call to Conversion, Jim Wallis nakedly outlines the walk of the fully converted Christian. Here, in part, is what the Christian's job description is:
Full trust and obedience to God. Proverbs 3:5-6
Loving your neighbors and enemies as you love yourself. Leviticus 19:18
Renouncing all and following His way. Luke 14:33
Feeding His sheep. Matthew 25:31-46
Setting the captives free and restoring sight to the blind. Isaiah 42:7
Healing the sick. Luke 10:9
Fervently praying for your enemies, against sin, and for salvation in the spiritual realm. Matthew 5:44
Reconciling with your enemies and being peacemakers through the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
Spreading the Good News, baptizing and making new disciples. Matthew 28:19-20
Suffering for His sake. Philippians 1:29
Turning one cheek and letting your enemy strike the other cheek. Matthew 5:39
Giving up whatever someone asks you for, plus some extra. Matthew 5:40
Going farther with anyone than they’ve asked you to go. Matthew 5:41
Not worrying about your next meal, where you will lay your head, or any provision. Luke 12:22
Laying down your life for a friend. John 15:13
Of course, I could literally go on and on; it's a BIG job! I will bet that many stopped reading at the second one, "Love thy enemies," and said, Welp, that's not for me! With Holy Spirit, loving your enemy IS possible. In your own flesh, however, you most certainly will fail. You can take the job as Christ follower and be confident that you will accomplish even the toughest parts of your assignment because you will be given the ability to labor in love for Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It will take a childlike faith (Matthew 11:25) in who He is to be obedient. How awful would it be for your Lord to fire you because of disobedience and possibly send you away from Him?! (Matthew 7:22-23). But know this, if you make a mistake on the job and you ask for forgiveness with all of your heart, you will be forgiven! (Jeremiah 15:19). So really, the only way you can fail is if you don’t take the job.
So how can we truly live as converted Christians? Well, we cannot be independent contractors. There are no 1099's issued. Either we stay grafted to the vine and bear fruit, or we do not (John 15:1-8). We allow His foreman, Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us daily, or we go our own way and make a mess of things (John 14:26; Acts 7:51). We don't just talk about what Christ did, but we do what He did and more (Acts 3:12). We trust in the sovereignty of our Father and do all we can to help usher in His Kingdom here on earth, which means helping God with His salvation and reconciliation plan (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Those are just some of the elements of being a truly converted Christian. May I ask – do you still want the job?
You may say, I might if I knew what the compensation package was. Well, first of all, keep in mind that any gifts you received from God were freely given to you, so I wouldn’t expect pay other than what is necessary for your upkeep (Matthew 10:8-10). But, you have been promised: access to treasure in heaven (Mark 10:21), abundant life (John 10:10), the ability to hide in Christ and become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), unlimited power to do your job (Luke 9:1), the unfailing love of God (Psalm 36:7), the chance to co-labor with Christ (Matthew 10:1), and heavenly rewards (Matthew 5:12). Not bad!
Is there a retirement plan? Here's a shock – you don't actually get to retire from Kingdom work. As long as you live and breathe you have a God-given assignment that you are to complete. But, why would you want to retire? Not one of your efforts on the Lord's behalf are in vain (Philippians 2:16). As long as we press toward the mark that God has established for us, we are in His service and on our job (Philippians 3:14).
Now, knowing all this, I pray you still choose to work for Jesus, because He needs you. The on-the-job training is awesome, because His yoke really is light (Matthew 11:29).
Father, I thank you for opening our eyes to the task at hand – namely advancing your Kingdom here on earth. I ask that whoever is reading this right now becomes energized to get to work for your Kingdom through your power and your might. I pray that as we make mistakes, your grace and mercy not only cover us, but also lift us up to continue pressing on. We feel so honored that because of our faith in you and your Son and by the power of Holy Spirit, we are able to be workers planting and watering, like Paul and Apollos, while you get the increase. What a privilege and an honor it is to get to serve you, Father! It is in Jesus’ mighty name we thank you and praise you. Amen.