Have you been born again, accepted Jesus as your personal savior, been converted, come to Christ, or been saved?
If you grew up anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, these questions may have a familiar ring. For the rest of you, they mean, “Are you a Christian?”
Have you had a spiritual awakening?
If you answered, “yes,” then how do you know?
There's no boilerplate answer to that question. I can only answer it from my personal experience, but I feel confident in saying that once you have come into relationship with Christ, you will know it.
That sense of knowing may be immediate or it may be gradual.
When immediate, you might experience an overwhelming sense of relief, as though an invisible thousand pound burden has been lifted from your shoulders. You feel lighter. Muscle tension is eased as though you have submerged your entire body and even your mind in a warm bath and you can finally relax and let go.
For others, your sense of having undergone change may be gradual, a spiritual unfolding of sorts, that manifests in different ways. Instead of dreading the monotony of your days as the same old, same old, you may begin each new morning a bit more energetically, with a newfound sense of hope, anticipating something good awaits. Could it be because you’ve begun to view people and life differently, more kindly? You may even catch yourself extending grace to people you once ignored or held in contempt.
The stories of “coming to Christ” are as varied and as beautiful as the people who share them and blessed you will be when you are made privy to these life-altering, world-changing encounters.
For me, the awareness of my personal Christ experience came as both immediate and gradual. As an adolescent, I’d gone through the motions of becoming a Christian, but I was not equipped at that time to grasp the words I repeated and the prayer I prayed. But at age 40 plus, when I bowed on my knees at the end of a very tiring day, I knew exactly what I was getting into and I was more than ready. When I prayed, “Lord, I’m making a mess of my life, please, take over,” I felt relief beyond description. I knew what my life was like without Christ and I just could not do it anymore. It's no surprise, but that night, I slept like a baby.
The ensuing days were delightful. I was overflowing with goodwill toward everyone, acquaintances and strangers, alike. I couldn’t stop smiling. My feet barely touched the ground. I wanted to hug everybody and tell them how much I appreciated them.
Mechtild of Magdeburg, a Christian mystic born in the year 1207, described it this way, “The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.”
After having lived for years in an unfocused world, I’d suddenly obtained prescription glasses that not only brought everything into focus, but that filtered the images so I could see everything and everybody as God Himself sees them.
Heart surgery? Definitely.
Cataract removal? Absolutely. The scales fell away. No anesthesia required.
The Apostle Paul write in 2 Corinthians 5:17 in the NIV:
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come! The King James read the same.
"In Christ" is not a contemporary term. Other translations of the New Testament interpret those words as "believing in" or "united with" Christ. I am, indeed, a believer in and united with Christ I know this for certain.
If you have any doubts about your standing in relationship to Christ, don't hesitate. Be persistent. Keep seeking, keep praying. Share your heart and your questions and doubts with Him. Share them with another believer. Ask that person to pray with you.
There is no greater privilege for followers of Jesus than to share the good news, without condemnation or judgment, but with love and understanding. After all, we've all been there in one form or another.
Lord God, we rejoice and thank You for making all things new, day after day. May the words of our mouths and pens and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to You, and may others come forth to accept Your gracious and unending love. Amen.
Ichthus - an early Christian image of a fish, representing Christianity. - photo by Becky Proctor