Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The kind of converts we see today

I am slowly making my way through volume one of Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield. There is something in this biography that I’ve noticed that bothers me a little bit. I’m sure others have seen the same thing: The conversions of Whitefield’s day, described in the biography, seem to be far removed from most of the conversions we see today. What really grabs my attention is how thorough they were. When people came to faith in Christ, their lives were genuinely and profoundly affected. For example, in the accounts of Whitefield, Charles Wesley and Howell Harris, it seems that conversion brought about not only a change of life, but a loss of desire for previous sins and the completely irresistible urge to tell others about Christ. Conversion made these men obviously and radically different from the people around them

I wonder is there something wrong with us church folk today? Are we burning with an irrepressible zeal for God? I must confess: Reading about the zeal of these men puts me to shame. What is the problem? I’d be inclined to blame the way the church today evangelizes and disciples the people in their charge but, then, I remember that Whitefield, Wesley and Harris came to faith in the midst of a church world that was not always friendly to the evangelical cause. It’s not like these men were a part of dynamic Bible-teaching, evangelistic, disciple-making churches. No, God saved them in spite of the spiritual state of the churches around them. He saved them almost without the instrument of the church. God, clearly, did the work of conversion in these men.

So, what’s wrong with us today? Where is this profound and supernatural work of conversion? Where are the radically-changed lives? Where are the Christians with unquenchable zeal and passion for God? Were these men just unusual? Are we living in more “normal” times?

One thing is for sure, the church is not producing the likes of Whitefield or Wesley or Harris today.

No comments: