Pretty soon, Steve, Lori, and I will be starting up a Bible study on Friday nights. We will be reading John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, which I am finding challenging thus far. I’ve read Stott’s Basic Christianity, but none of his other books, because it’s far easier to commit to the short, but deep, than the 300+ pages of some of this other works (The Cross of Christ included).
In reading the introduction, I came across a description Stott gave of his conversion that I want to share… well, it was actually Alister McGrath quoting John Stott in the introduction he wrote to Stott’s book… it’s all very confusing:
That night at my bedside, I made the experiment of faith, and ‘opened the door’ to Christ. I saw no flash of lightning… in fact, I had no emotional experience at all. I just crept into bed and went to sleep. For weeks afterwards, even months, I was unsure what had happened to me. But, gradually I grew, as the diary I was writing at the time makes clear, into a clearer understanding and a firmer assurance of the salvation and lordship of Jesus Christ.
I think the reason this quote struck me was because we so often try to wrap up the moment of conversion into a quick sound-bite. We try to paint it in a nice little picture that’s not confusing or muddled. But, in my experience, conversion is almost always confusing an muddled, as it gets all blurred against sanctification.
With me, for instance, I committed my life to obedience of God something like 13 years ago. However, I don’t think I truly understood grace or Christ crucified until something like 7 years ago. Both are necessary for conversion, and I’m not sure I feel confident saying that I wasn’t a Christian when I was only obeying God… because that’s a huge step that God spends our whole lives kneading into us. And yet, I’m also not confident saying that I knew the weight of the Christian label.
Perhaps it’s more mysterious than we ever want it to be.