As I’ve been reading on the early church, I’ve come across a great saying used by the church fathers – Conversatio Morem – and I’d like to make it my own.
The phrase can be translated in 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 this statement.
The second way to translate this is, “Constant Conversion!”
Again, I resonate with this sentiment very much. After studying the New Testament, I’ve come to see that the idea of salvation was very much a process. Those scriptures that speak of “being saved” seem to communicate the idea that following Jesus involves a gradual, daily transformation, not a magic, light-switch moment that takes place all at once.
Now, our modern understanding of salvation seems to be much more about that single day in our lives where we go forward, say a prayer and maybe even fill out a little card.
The problem is that, after this moment we can, and often do, just live out the rest of our days any way we want; as if nothing at all has actually happened.
Sure, if we get into trouble, or need some advice or maybe a miracle, then maybe then we will ask for God’s help, but mainly our lives after this sort of one-time conversion are entirely our own.
But, I think it’s a bit more accurate to think of salvation as a lifelong process of being transformed into the image of Christ as we daily abide in Christ, and Christ in us.
For example, in the book of 1 Peter we see salvation is something which is happening to us, or something that we are in the process of receiving every single day: “For you ARE RECEIVING the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:9)
So, maybe salvation isn’t something that we receive – like a gift in a box – but something we experience daily – like breathing and walking.
If so, then this forgotten cry of “Conversatio Morem!” is a call to a revolution within my own soul where I recognize the need to experience “constant conversion!” and the importance of a continual “death to (my) status quo!” so that what is old can die and what is new can live.
This is the ongoing process of resurrection within us. It’s a declaration of never-ending renewal and a continual surrender to the relentless work of the Holy Spirit within to make all things new.
Somehow, looking at my own walk with Jesus as an ongoing conversion helps me to maintain this counter-cultural mindset in my own life.
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 the transformational power of Christ within.
Salvation is not something I experienced once, all those years ago. It’s something I experience every moment of every single day of my life.
I walk the aisle every morning. I bend the knee every sunrise and I give my heart, over, and over again, in the perpetual surrender of my status quo for the experience of constant conversion.
WARNING: Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin Of American Christianity by Ray Mayhew is only a few pages long, but this article on the early Christian church changed my life. After reading this, my wife and I left the institutional church to start a house church where 100% of the offering was given away to help the poor in our community and nothing was ever the same again. Download a FREE PDF copy of this article HERE. [But don’t say I didn’t warn you].
Keith Giles and his wife, Wendy, work with Peace Catalyst International to help build relationships between Christians and Muslims in El Paso, TX. Keith was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church over a decade ago to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today he is the author of the best-selling “Jesus Un” series of books, including “Jesus Unexpected: Ending The End Times To Become The Second Coming” which is available now on Amazon.