Will I be transformed or just be a nicer version of myself?
God’s love overwhelmed me when I became a Christian at university. Old perceptions of God as an aloof grandfather figure vanquished in the presence of Christ. I was transformed instantly. Or so I thought.
After a year or more of following Christ at university I was still struggling with unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviour. Disappointment started to grip me as the cycle of sin raged on. I wanted to follow Christ perfectly, but surprisingly I fell short of perfection!
So a fear stalked me. Would I just settle as a politer and nicer version of my old self? At times my new life seemed an old one wrapped in religious cliches. It was like God had saved me in theory, for future maybe, but the here and now the difference was barely traceable.
"Would I settle for a sanitised polite, middle-class faith or believe God for a transformation of character?"
The prospect of an enhanced middle-class existence with its values of comfort, career and cash was a despairing one compared to the faith adventure Christ promised. I was wrestling with scriptures like “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he has prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) I was so hopeful at times, only for a voice of shame to cynically bully the truth out of me.
I had arrived at a crossroads in my new found faith. Would I settle for a sanitised polite, middle-class faith or believe God for a transformation of character?
On my first church weekend away as a Christian, I came forward for prayer after a message. The preacher, a short, fiery man, came over to pray for me. He put his hands on my shoulder to pray these loud and authoritative words. Then a very strange thing happened.
It felt like he was pushing his hands forcefully down on my shoulders. It looked like I was imitating the hunchback of notre dam! I thought this guy has some issues with his stature!
Then suddenly my body gently swayed back and forth influenced by this invisible internal weight as if I’d had one too many! My new short friend kindly guided all 15 stone of me to the cold, conference room floor.
It turned out that the burden on my shoulder wasn’t the preacher’s overzealous hands-on praying, rather it was a mysterious, quite supernatural event unfolding!
I thought “I’ve heard about this weird thing when Christians fall over, but never thought it would happen to me.”
As I lay on the floor with my mind churning over obsessively about whether I was faking whatever was happening to me, I felt God’s weighty loving presence replace the old heavy burdens. God’s Presence consumed the negative feeling of not being perfect before God. The yoke and burden had been exchanged, Jesus’ words were alive in me, “My burden is light and my yoke is easy.” (Matthew 11:30)
When I stood up and walked away from that encounter I was a changed man.
Have you reached a crossroads in a “middle class” Christian life? Which way now?
Have you encountered the Holy Spirit in a life changing way?
What experience could ignite your faith to break the mould of safe and comfortable Christian life?
Consider the Fusion conference as a dangerous experience to stretch your faith to new limits. To book on, click here.