Jesus told us to go out and make disciples. Instead we’ve made converts.
Scott McKnight, in The Jesus Creed says it’s the difference between a birth certificate and a driver’s license: “If conversion is like a birth certificate, we produce babies who need to be pushed around in strollers. If it’s like a driver’s license, we produce adults who can operate on life’s pathways.” This probably explains why so many here in the Bible belt are endlessly running from church to church seeking some place “we really get fed.” People who carry driver’s licenses generally also know how to go to the fridge, drive to the supermarket, and cook up a meal.
McKnight goes on to ask, “When was Peter actually converted?” Was is:
- When he left his boat and followed Jesus?
- When he fell before Jesus and confessed he was a “sinful man”?
- When he confessed “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”?
- When he confessed Jesus as Lord?
- When Jesus breathed on the disciples with the Holy Spirit?
- When the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost?
It’s a tricky question for us because nowhere is it actually recorded that Peter said a “sinner’s prayer.” And that’s what seals it for most of us evangelicals. Undoubtedly this is something we need to wrestle with. What differentiates a disciple from a convert? And could it be that our “how do I get to heaven?” mentality lends itself to conversion over discipleship?
I believe this might well be one of the reasons we’ve lost sight of the Kingdom.