Is Conversion a Good Thing?

“Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.’” (Matthew 18:3-4 NLT)

Conversion is one of those terms that cause people to cringe, largely because they don’t understand what it means. According to Strong’s Concordance it means: “to turn, return, turn again,” with specific reference to the Biblical usage which is: “to turn to the worship of the true God; to cause to return, to bring back to the love and obedience to God; to love wisdom and righteousness.”

Like so many other dimensions of the Christian faith, conversion begins with us, each of us  individually. I can’t convert another person. We don’t have the power to change another person’s heart or mind. We can certainly pray for and speak with those who need the Lord, thus influencing them, but the decision to turn to Christ is an individual decision, prompted by the Holy Spirit, with the express intention that someone will yield their life and allegiance to Jesus.

When understood in that light, conversion is a great thing; however, somewhat dependent upon the tradition in which a person is “converted,” it may come with a lot of baggage, so much so, a person could be “converted,” and still miss Christ. Church is a family of believers who have trusted Jesus for salvation and are headed to heaven to live together for all eternity.

In heaven we’ll all be perfect and our relationships will reflect that perfection, but while we’re on this earth, we’re far from perfect and our relationships often reflect our imperfection. What that can look like is a list of rules and regulations, which may align in part with Biblical instruction, but end up looking a lot like what the Jewish believers in Jesus tried to cast on the gentiles (non-Jewish) who were becoming believers in Jesus.

Photo by Helena Lopes on

Things like dress codes, language, movies, church attendance, friendships, and so forth. The goal was to be separated from the world and aligned with Christ; however, the legalism can become the measure as to whether a person is even a believer. Non-Christian cults fit into this, but even within the Body of Christ, there are groups that emphasize “holiness” that is more man-made and man-centered, than Holy Spirit led and focused on modeling Jesus’ life and teachings.

Jared C. Wilson wrote: “Conversion to Christ produces true religion. Conversion to religion produces the same old self-righteousness.” “True religion,” as I understand what Wilson is saying, is centered and focused on Jesus; seeking to model our lives after His, not simply in how He interrelated with others, but His personal piety, His love for the Father, evidenced by His devotion to prayer; His love of the Scriptures, His love of everyone He met and with whom He had contact – yes, even those who crucified Him.

Conversion is a decision that we must make in response to the Holy Spirit’s invitation, but it’s not intended to lead us to disciplines that put the emphasis on ourselves – i.e. OUR faithfulness; OUR disciplined Bible reading/study, OUR extended prayer time, OUR unblemished attendance record, or OUR sacrificial giving and serving.

Jesus said to “Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness…” That implies giving Him the highest priority and ordering our lives around His will and desires. And, yes, of course, that should result in disciplines that enable us to form godly habits, that ultimately serve to exalt and honor Him, not us. Conversion to that life of obedient surrender to Him is what the Bible calls us to.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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