Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gravitational Pull: An Illustratration of Being Converted to True Center

We all have a point of view. We look out at our world in every direction, and from that location, we are the center. Point of view defines what we mean by “here” and “there.” It is implied in our prepositions, such as “away from” – me, and “toward” – me.

Point of view rules in our relationships. We think of people in terms of how they relate to “me.” He is “my brother,” or “my neighbor.” We come to see people as friends or enemies, depending on how they treat us. We categorize them according to what we ourselves have experienced from them, for instance, “that boy is really mean,” meaning, of course, that that boy is really mean to me.

And so the contruct of our universe places ourselves at the center; we are, indeed, self-centered. And I would like for you to imagine that your universe has a gravitational pull, toward the center, toward yourself. Even the divine is evaluated and defined in terms of your gravitational pull. When we believe, we pull him in; and when we want to be left alone, we shut him out.

But when a person comes to Christ; when the reality and significance of Christ dawns upon him or her (cf. John 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1), the Bible describes something that happens in one’s own human, personal experience. He/she experiences conversion, including repentance and faith: a turning from a set of viewpoints and beliefs and behaviors, and a turning toward a Person, Jesus Christ.

This person realizes that he/she is not the center, but Christ is, and that gravitational pull is found, not in me, but in Him. And so we stop praying to ourselves (“do better, do better, do better”). We stop depending upon ourselves (“try harder, try harder, try harder”). We stop doing things merely for ourselves (“I want, I want, I want”). This is conversion.

But then, those who are Christians may be willing to admit, there seems to be a problem in our everyday experience: partial conversion. We worship Christ, but we continue to throw (quite) a few honor-offerings our own way as well. We religously differentiate mankind as either saved or lost, but we still really evaluate people on how they react to us. There seems to be at least as much gravitational pull toward ourselves as there is toward the True Center.

This can’t be good. It is inconsistent. It introduces tremendous dissonance into our lives, between what we say we believe, and how we actually behave. I think this has been called, “hypocrisy,” two-faced, but in terms of gravitational pull, two-poled.

Are you half-converted? Yes, if you are a believer in Christ, both a saint, but still a sinner. A half-believer? No, not in your religious confessions, but yes, in your practical behaviors. And we pray for a full conversion; for a mature faith; for a relief from the tension between Him and me.

We don’t convert ourselves. But we seek a more complete conversion. Having already trusted in the redeeming work of Christ, we seek to open our hearts to the conviction of the Spirit of God, who will lead us into greater, ongoing repentance; and we invite the promising Spirit to grow our faith, to expand our appreciation of Christ, and to blow out the false limits of and contradictions to our honor of Him. We humbly ask God that we might experience a more complete conversion of comprehension: “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” (Ephesians 3:18 ESV) of His gravitational pull.

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