We like to refer to ourselves as being " converted."  We often talk about people who have been baptized and have continued in the fellowship of the Church as being “converted”.  But what is conversion?  Is it an event?  Did we become converted instantly at baptism?  Some erroneously think of conversion in this way.  But in reality, at our baptism we have only just begun the long process of conversion.  Conversion will not be complete until we have fully taken on the mind of Christ.  It is a process that must continue throughout our lifetime.

Our conversion is not a simple matter of accepting that Christ died for our sins, and that, if we hold onto our beliefs throughout our life, we will become God-plane beings in the Kingdom of God.  It is not enough to stop eating pork, to keep the holydays and the Sabbath, to fast occasionally and to pray often.  Certainly, these are all good and necessary, but they are not enough.  Our destiny is to become divine Spirit beings in the Kingdom of God - the God Family.

God, in His love, is creating us in His image.  We are not yet completely like God.  We have a long way to go.  God’s goal and purpose in creating mankind is to reproduce Himself.  This can not be achieved until we develop His holy righteous character.  But God cannot instantaneously create His holy and righteous character in us by proclamation.  Godly character must be developed in us through a process.  God requires us to be willing participants in the character development process.  Herbert W. Armstrong gave us a few definitions for this perfect character:

"What is perfect character?  It is the ability, in a separate entity with free moral agency, to come to the KNOWLEDGE of the right from the wrong - the true from the false - and to CHOOSE the right, and possess the WILL to enforce self-discipline to DO the right and resist the wrong."  (The Incredible Human Potential, page 138)
"Perfect, holy and righteous character is the ability in such separate entity to come to discern the true and right way from the false, to make voluntarily a full and unconditional surrender to God and his perfect way - to yield to be conquered by God - to determine even against temptation or self-desire, to live and to do the right.  And even then such holy character is the gift of God."  (Mystery of the Ages, page 69-70)

Our conversion is a matter of going from a lack of character to attaining perfect, holy and righteous character by the power of God's Holy Spirit working in us.  The apostle Paul describes the process of conversion:

"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.   Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."  (Romans 8:6-9)

James wrote, “I will show you my faith by my works”.  Brethren, we need to realize that the proof of our conversion lay in our decisions and in our actions.  For most of us, it doesn’t take that much character to honor our parents, not to rob a bank, to refuse a plate of pork knuckles or to attend a service on the Sabbath.  These things are fairly easy for most Christians.  It is not the easy tasks that build real character.  Character comes in the exercise of self-discipline in the same way  body-building muscle comes to a weight lifter.  It takes a repetitive, consistent working at it, to build character.  So where do we find the evidence in our lives that we are seriously continuing to develop Godly character?

It lies in the little things, those day-to-day decisions and actions that do not come so easily for us.  How do we react when our mate is tired and can’t get some of their responsibilities done?  Are we patient and willing to help, or do we make them feel incompetent or inadequate.  When we are working at the computer or reading a book and are interrupted by a family member, do we make them feel that their problem is less important than what we are doing?  Do we clean-up and pick-up after ourselves, or do we expect someone else to do it?  Do we treat everyone in our work place as potential children of God?  Are we prompt and respectful when we have set a time to meet with someone, or do we keep them waiting?  Do we walk around with a long grumpy face or do we try to have a pleasant disposition?  These are not inconsequential happenstances - they define much of our conversion process.  There are many more daily situations in which we find ourselves that give us a chance to overcome our carnal human nature and grow in character.

At the end of each day, we should look back on how we reacted to various situations and ask ourselves whether Christ would have handled them differently.  When we have fallen short, and we always will in some way or another, we can work on ourselves to do better the next day.  Making daily progress in how we handle even the almost inconsequential aspects of our lives is the way to grow in holy righteous character.  We will have become strong in character when we have become wholly submissive and obedient to God.

When we slip and fail, we need to remind ourselves that we are a long way from being fully converted.  Having a humble frame of mind, realizing that we fall far short of the goal, is necessary for us to continue to grow in character.  We are still in the process of “converting” into people who will be filled with perfect, holy and righteous Godly character.  Only then will we be fully made in the image of our Father and be permitted to have a place in His Kingdom.   And if we strive daily to develop Godly character, when we finally meet God face to face, He will say those words that we have been so looking forward to,  “Well done thou good and faithful servant”.  Let’s be fervent in not forgetting to be faithful in the little things.


Sermon:  "What Is Conversion"