“When did you become a Christian?”
How often have you been asked that or heard the question, “How many young people became Christians tonight?” We so easily talk as if becoming Christian is a one off event, an instant transformation from one state of being to another. In one sense this is true and the Bible suggests several ways of understanding the change – we can be ‘born again’, or we move from one kingdom to another, or we become part of the body of Christ, or we simply choose to change direction and begin following Christ. Whilst it may be helpful to have a short-hand way to describe this change the danger is that the shorthand replaces our full understanding and we can think that having made a decision or prayed a prayer, we’ve arrived at the destination, I have become a Christian – full stop.
My Facebook profile used to describe my religion as ‘learning to be Christian’ (somehow it vanished in some update or other) and that seems to me to be more appropriate; I haven’t got it all sorted, I haven’t arrived, I haven’t got all the answers,( in fact I’m still discovering the questions) so I prefer to talk instead, of ‘becoming christian’ . Being a Christian is not an end but a process, a journey or a lifestyle of growing more like Jesus.
I read this recently that expresses it well,
“To believe means to be so rooted in Christ that he becomes the foundation of one’s existence, the beginning and end of the movement known as life, its measure and source and strength. The extent to which we succeed depends on our loyalty and on our power of sacrifice. Hence the believer does well to say not that he is a Christian, but that he is becoming one.” – Romano Guardini quoted by Alan & Debra Hirsch in ‘Untamed’
If we can recognise this we might be better placed to do discipleship with young people and in our churches. We are always learning and growing, always being formed and transformed into his likeness; disciples are by definition pupils of the teacher, followers of the master and our task is to keep our eyes on him so we can see where he is leading, keep our ears open to hear his voice and keep our souls and minds open to allow him to shape us.
If we can encourage ourselves and those to whom we seek to model faith to recognise we are all in a process of becoming, then we might be more open to learn and to grow, we might be more open to forgiveness and grace, we might become more like Jesus, more Christian.
So when did you start becoming christian?