The “fruit,” or realities of conversion are not something that we seek after primarily. It naturally bears in our lives if we have truly been converted. However, effort is still required to live the Christian life, no matter how naturally the realities are to bear in us. This is no ordinary effort like studying for an exam or going to the gym every week.
Have you experienced the reality of conversion to God?
‘Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 18:3). ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17). By nature we are so weak, earthly-minded and sinful that without a complete change we cannot serve God in this life, and could not enjoy Him in heaven. Just as ducks when they are born naturally take to water, so when we are born we naturally take to sin. If we are to leave sin and learn to love God, a great change must take place in our lives. And if that change has taken place, it will be seen by its fruits. Do you have a sense of sin and of hatred for it? Do you have faith in Christ and love for Him? Do you love holiness, and long to be more holy? Do you find yourself growing in love for God’s people and dislike of the ways of the world? These are the signs which always follow conversion to God. Where do you stand?J.C. Ryle, Walking with God (Abridged and simplified version of Practical Religion)
My wife and I recently gave birth to our first child on March 22, 2020. After a month of being a father for the first time, my heart goes out to all the mothers and fathers who are caring for a newborn baby especially during this period of lock down.
The joys of parenthood are inexpressible. I find myself staring at her for long periods of time as she sleeps. Her cries are adorable and every funny sound she makes brings laughter to the whole house. I never wanted to be that guy who shares pictures of their child all the time but I became that guy. I want the whole world to share in the joy that Irene has brought me. I think she is the most beautiful thing in the whole world.
But the fears of parenthood are just as difficult. Because she is still so fragile. She is unable to move by herself. She cannot support her head by herself. She cannot speak to explain what she is feeling. And when she incessantly cries and her face turns deep red, your heart just drops because you’re not sure what she needs or what is causing her to cry or the extent of whatever pain she may be enduring. Usually its just her struggling to poo.
Aside from the joys and the fears, I can’t ignore mentioning the grueling daily grind of caring for her. Love her we may with all our heart, mind and soul, but taking care of a child is serious work. She does not abide by our time or schedule. Every few hours she gets hungry, has to have her diapers changed, and needs to be comforted. Trying to get her to sleep sometimes takes hours. We are constantly awake, even when we are asleep. It is a 24 hour duty. The days are getting blurred.
I feel like this is a very appropriate metaphor to the realities of conversion.
There are inexpressible joys of salvation that we rightly celebrate. This celebration doesn’t take effort, it is merely the fruit of our salvation. I wonder how many of us have truly tasted and seen that the Lord is good! If more of us did, there would be more of us who hunger and thirst for His presence each day in His Word. We would want to share this joy with the entire world, to anyone who is willing to hear, not simply sharing a formula for salvation. We should be sharing pictures of His works in our lives and testimonies of His beauty and goodness.
And at the same time, we should be protective of the gospel of our salvation. Because of how precious it is, because of how worthy God is. This is why doctrine and theology are important to our spirituality. We must guard what is sacred and holy in us from being corrupted. Unlike a helpless child, our salvation has been granted to us by the King of kings and Lord of lords. His name is to be feared with reverence and awe. His honor and glory must be esteemed above all things. Although we do not have the power to uphold His name, we do so when we bow in humility and surrender.
But lastly, we must take care of our salvation. This is the extraordinary effort that is required by those who are saved and it begins with a heart of repentance. There cannot be a conversion if there is no heart of repentance. We may remember when we were saved how much we hated ourselves, more specifically, how much we hated our sin. But just because we have greater knowledge of God and more experience does not mean things become easier. In fact, our awareness of sin and the worldliness that corrupts should expand as we continue in bearing the fruits of our salvation.
During these unique times of greater solitude, take time to reflect on your faith and see if these realities of conversion are evident in your life.