We have to recognize that when someone becomes a Christians there is definitely something that happens. Once we believed this and now we believe that. Both Jesus and Paul show that a real transition must happen.
But when and how does such a transition happen? Some people (like myself) can testify to a seemingly sudden ‘conversion’ which can occur on a single day. Others can’t quite place when they came to believe. Perhaps there were a few weeks or months of slower transition and at the end the realization of ‘hey, I believe all this!’
In reality, most people (even those with seemingly sudden conversions) become believing Christians through a series of min-decisions. These realizations or turning points are often very small but they are significant. They often are a breakdown of a prejudice against faith, or a little bits of clarity about the nature of the Gospel . Tim Keller, in his seminal volume Center Church, identifies five different types of mini-decisions. I’ll be looking at each kind over the next few days.
The first type of mini-decision Keller identifies is Awareness. He describes it as follows:
1) Awareness: “I see it.” They begin to clear the ground of stereotypes and learn to distinguish the gospel from legalism or liberalism, the core from the peripheral. They may make mini-decisions like these:
“She’s religious but surprisingly open-minded.’
“You can be a Christian and be intelligent!”
“The Bible isn;t that hard to understand after all.”
“A lot of things the Bible says really fit me.”
“I see the difference between Christianity and just being moral”*
Looking back on my own conversion experience over a decade ago, this rings true. As a young atheist I had never met an educated Christian before. I remember a professor who was one – although certainly not a paragon of orthodoxy by any stretch! Encountering someone who could speak of art, philosophy, and culture while still having kind of religious faith made me do a re-think. I didn’t become a Christian the next day but it was a small step.
As we pray and labour to make Jesus known to the world we have to understand the value of mini-decisions. As a Church, we can endeavour to make room for people who need to make a possibly long journey of such steps in order to come to Christ.
* From page 281 of Center Church.