Last updated on October 14th, 2020 at 10:49 am
Revisiting the ‘Experience’ component of theology, I turn to the ‘Conversion Experience’, so very personal in nature that the old spiritual says it best— “You don’t know what the Lord told me… You don’t know, you wasn’t there. You can’t say when and you can’t say where…”
Notable for word study is the concept ‘strepho’ which in scripture has the meaning ‘to turn’; ‘to twist’; ‘to bend’; ‘to change’. It is used in the Old Testament to refer to inner conversion through suffering or fear. After anointing Saul for the Kingship, he is told by Samuel that the Spirit of the Lord would grip him and he would be changed into another man.
Several forms of ‘strepho’ are used in scripture, here most notably two: ‘apostrepho’ (apostacy)— ‘to turn away from’; ‘to turn aside’; ‘to turn back’; ‘to reject’, and, ‘epistrepho’— ‘to turn one’s attention to’; ‘to pay regard to’; ‘to be intentive’; ‘to turn one’s heart to’; ‘to take up a matter’. Key to the root and most all forms of this word is conscious action. It places this experience time and time again in the very heart of faith as the action relates directly to God. Turning away or turning towards God establishes a relationship that effects how the individual will subsequently experience life and the world in which he lives.
The late great Dr. Joseph E. Lowery preached that “America must be called to The Mourner’s Pew”. It is that ‘First and Front and Center Pew’ in the Church where persons whose lives are in turmoil from the ‘wages of sin’ must sit each time they worship in order to be positioned to have the Power of God access their personal and private life. America, from the top to the bottom of this nation has come, most especially in 2020, to live such ‘self-serving lives’; no thought for life other than one’s own. Our young, particularly, have come to think that they have entered history ‘at the Center’ —no connections, accountability, responsibility for Family, Community or all of it’s interconnected and intergenerational relatedness of life; that without, society finds itself in decay.
Most recalled in preaching are the conversion experiences of Isaiah and Paul. This single experience of a person’s life is spoken of by the worlds greatest theologians as one that so alters, so turns, so twists, so changes the individual’s life that ‘they will never be the same again!’
The ‘knowledge/revelation’ gained by this experience dictates all future actions on the part of the ‘changed man’. The world view of the individual is turned towards truth— in seeking, in living and in propagation.
My birth Church used to sing a song that had an amazing level of participation. They sang— “Oh, oh, oh, oh somebody touched me! (3 times) And it must have been the hand of the Lord.” Then they sang a verse for each day of the week— “It was on a Monday when somebody touched me! (3 times) And it must have been the hand of the Lord.” Individuals would stand up for the Monday chorus and others would join those standing as each day was called. I remember wondering if and when I was supposed to stand. I knew that whatever they were singing about was so important, so special that each person remembered the very day that it happened to them. Experiencing God in such a way that your life is ‘born again! New Life! NEW BIRTHDAY! Jesus says that every person MUST have one!
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