In much of modern Canadian life, when you want to “become” something, it’s more or less up to you. It is up to your decision, your effort, your discipline. Obviously factors outside of yourself play a significant role: to become a husband you need to have a woman who will marry you; to become a doctor you need to get accepted into Med school; to become Deputy Minister you will need a mentor or patron who believes in you. But your effort is first and foremost. In this true in becoming a Christian?
The answer is “No”.
Some might say in response, “George, you cannot be right on this. My ‘born again’ friends tell of their search and decision to become a Christian. In fact, they love to tell their ‘testimonies’ of what happened to them and the steps that they took to become a Christian. So surely becoming a Christian is a lot like becoming married or a doctor or a Deputy Minister. It is primarily about my effort.”
Now I confess that Christians nowadays often talk about all that they did to become a Christian. They might even think it was “their” search and “their” decision and “their” effort. It also might be that the language of their testimony confuses. To see why this is the case, consider this question, “How do you become a person who, without the aid of any machines or technology, can fly to the moon and back?” The answer is, “This cannot be done.” Human beings cannot fly without the aid of airplanes or space shuttles. Human beings cannot survive in space without a well built space ship that supplies oxygen and warmth and food and propulsion.
A Christian is one who has been reconciled to God and now God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit live within them. How can I, or any human being, ever achieve or create this? To have the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit make their home within me is not something I can make. It is more impossible than traveling to the moon and back without the aid of technology or machine. It is only if God decides to come to us that we can have Him live within us. The initiative and accomplishment is all His. We receive, we do not achieve. We are dependent upon His grace, not our achievement.
Under the mercy,