As I’ve been reading on the early church, I’ve come across a great saying used by the church fathers and I’d like to make it my own.
The phrase, “Conversatio Morem” can be translated two different ways, depending on the context. The first way is, “Death To The Status Quo”. I must say, I love this. It embodies the counter-cultural aspect of Christian discipleship that I long to embody and to inspire in others. If I ever have a tattoo, it will be of this statement.
The second way to translate this is, “Constant Conversion”. Again, I resonate with this sentiment very much. After studying the writings of Peter, James and Paul I see that they’re idea of salvation was very much a process. They all speak of “being saved” and seem to understand that following Jesus involves a gradual, daily transformation into someone who is like our Lord, and closer to someone who is fit for Heaven.
Our modern understanding of salvation seems to be much more about a single day or event in our lives where we went forward, said a prayer and maybe even filled out a little card. After that we can, and often do, live out the rest of our lives any way we want. If we get into trouble, or need some advice or a miracle, maybe then we will pray and ask God’s help, but mainly our lives after this sort of “conversion” are our own.
Paul, Peter and James see salvation as a lifelong process. All through the book of 1 Peter we see the famous disciple speaking of salvation as something which is occurring to us, or that we are in the process of receiving every day. "For you ARE RECEIVING the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9, etc.) Peter doesn't see salvation as something you take possession of until the day you’re actually at the Judgment Seat of Christ and it is then He saves you, in that day.
Paul especially sees salvation as being tied to our worship and our worship as being tied to our being living sacrifices (Romans 12). He also is pretty clear that “Your life is not your own; You were bought with a price.” (1 Cor 6:19-20)
We, of course, have the hope and the promise of salvation, but just like the Gospel, it’s about a daily, ongoing submission to Jesus.
I’m trying now to get my head around a daily, “constant conversion”. The Kingdom is about following Jesus, and Jesus said we can’t even begin to follow Him unless we daily take up our crosses and die to ourselves. (Luke 9:23)
Somehow, looking at my own walk with Jesus as an ongoing conversion helps me to maintain this counter-cultural mindset in my own life. Now, I understand now that "Death to the Status Quo" is really a personal cry for revolution in my own soul. It is my status quo that needs to be put to death.
Instead of seeing salvation as that day I came forward at the Lighthouse Freewill Baptist Church in Eagle Pass, Texas at the age of 9, now I see it as a daily surrender to Jesus. I walk the aisle every morning. I bend the knee every sunrise and give Him my heart, over, and over again.
NOTE: Originally sent to the subscribers of the subversive underground newsletter on Dec.21st, 2005.