I got to thinking the other day about how I am different than I was ten years ago and especially twenty years ago. Although much is the same a lot has also changed in my life in those years. I have a friend at the soup kitchen where I volunteer who proudly wears a T-shirt that says “Thank God, I am not the man I used to be”. He is a recovering drug addict and one of my dearest friends. I too should be wearing that shirt as I am not the man I used to be either. Thank the Lord I was never involved in drugs, other than a thirty-year addition to tobacco which was bad enough, but I have changed a lot in other areas. Mostly for the good I think. Sometime, well really often times, I get impatient with others who call themselves Christians but don’t act like it. I can’t understand why they don’t understand the words of Jesus like I do. Why do they still stubbornly cling to words of man instead of their creator?
Recently I posted part of Rachel Held Evans who is fellow Christian blogger, much more famous than I am, that managed to get an interview with Shane Claiborne. Here is part of what he had to say regarding how we all are, or at least should be, constantly growing into what it means to be a Christian:
I do think it’s important to keep in mind that conversion is not just about a moment; it’s about a movement, about continually changing into the people that God has made us to be. So we need to have the same sort of patience with one another that God has with us as we move through that process. Sometimes, when I speak at a mega-church or something, someone will ask, “How do you come here, after being in Iraq or Calcutta? How do you speak into a culture like this with love?” And it’s because I see myself in the mirror! We’re all in process and that should give us great patience and peace with one another.
….That and the fact that the Bible is full of really messed-up people! Saul of Tarsus was a terrorist, for example. David was a womanizer who pretty much broke every command there was in two chapters of the Bible. But that’s part of the story—that God uses not only our gifts, but also our brokenness and our history. Desmond Tutu says that the love of God is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free. What a beautiful reminder that we should should never write anyone off.
Conversion is not as many seem to believe, just about a moment in time. It is really about a lifetime change. We all take baby steps in the beginning and then our stride increases as we grow in life. Some as Shane points out above start out more screwed up than others but we must all realize that each of us no matter what we think, are at various stages of growth.
Shane Claiborne is a young man, at least by my standards, who is a visionary leader of the Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia and helps birth similar communities around the world. He is also a prolific author. If you have yet to pick up one of his books I pray that you will do so soon. His words just might change your life.