The title of the blog caught my attention and spawned several questions in my mind. It read: ’15 Famous Athletes You Didn’t Know Were Christians’. And though the title interested me, I had decided to simply pass on without study or comment. However, my soul is still stirred by this declaration to such an extent that I decided to respond to it in writing.
My question is this: ‘Is it possible for someone to be converted and no one notice?’
I once read a story of a modern day ‘doubting Thomas’ that refused to step foot on church property or give any credence to people’s faith. One day the church building began to burn due to the careless actions of a gardener who was burning off his old refuse nearby. The gathered parishioners were astonished to look around and see the defiant man standing among them watching the emergency responders deal with the blaze. Bewildered by his presence, one bystander asked why he had decided to come to the church and watch. His response was quite telling. ‘This’, he said, ‘is the first time I’ve ever seen the church on fire’!
We can hardly miss the irony in what he said. And we can’t mistake his understanding: ‘a Christian should look different than anyone else’. ‘But how?’, we ask.
Please, allow me to suggest a few ways.
First, there should be a visible sign of REJOICING. The Psalmist used phrases like ‘I will awaken the dawn with my song’ or ‘Shout to the Lord all the earth’ or ‘Come before Him with jubilant song’ to express his desire to sing with rejoicing. If someone is sincerely in touch with the fact that they have been ‘delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Jesus), in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’, Colossians 1:13-14, shouldn’t saved people be overwhelmed with the desire to jubilantly rejoice?
Second, there should be a visible sign of REPENTANCE. Someone who is sincerely converted will be experiencing a new awareness of right and wrong and should have an increasing desire for a changed life. THAT SHOULD SHOW. It has been passed down to us that on one occasion, while visiting the town of his birth and early life, that Augustine once encountered Monica, a friend with whom he had shared an immoral relationship. As she meet him on the street, Augustine passed without so much as a glance. She called after him, ‘Augustine, it is I’. ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘but it is not I any longer’. If we are ‘putting to death whatever belongs to the sinful nature’, Colossians 3:5, we will both experience and exhibit change. It will show.
Third, there should be a visible sign of a new way of RELATING to old friends. God puts it like this through the Apostle Peter: ‘For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery and they malign you’, I Peter 4:3-4. The point is clear: the sincerely converted person should expect old friends to notice your change and react to you because of it.
This brings us full circle. If a person is truly converted, will anyone notice? Will we have to list the names of ’15 Famous Athletes Who are Christians’? Shouldn’t it show?