Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Paul preached that there is no spiritual healing unless one is converted (Acts 28:27). To be converted means literally to twist, turn around, and reverse. In spiritual application, the word means to leave one thing for another. In evangelism, the attempt is to turn one from the world to Christ. However, people have been known to turn from the world to something other than Jesus and His doctrine. This is unfortunate, but true. Consider a few deadly alternative to conversion to the Lord.
Some are converted to emotions. Without question, emotion lies at the heart of a person’s makeup. Emotion must play a prominent role in both becoming a Christian and living as a Christian. The people present on Pentecost were pierced to the heart and cried out, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Tears are commonplace among godly Christians, contemplating the Lord’s Supper, pleading with the lost, and saying goodbye to another saint who is leaving the area or life. Christians are joyful people, quick to smile and laugh. There should be righteous anger at the display of unrighteousness. Emotions are essential to Christianity, but some are overly enamored with emotion. They are big on “feeling” something. The paramount gauge of a sermon’s success is if it made them laugh or cry, not if it was true or false. “Touchy-feely” is preeminent, whether or not it rings true doctrinally. One converted to emotion in such a way is converted to the wrong thing.
Some are converted to personalities. The church is composed of people, and some folks are more likable than others. Each Christian should so live as to be attractive, just as Christ was (cf. Matt. 4:25; 8:1; 12:15; etc.). Yet, some are converted to people. Their loyalty is to the preacher, an elder, or some family in the congregation. When that preacher leaves, they cease coming. Whatever that family believes or advocates, they blindly follow and mimic. It is so easy to become blinded to human loyalties that it overshadows a concern for what is right and biblical. Multitudes are loyal to false teachers, despite clear, multiplied errors in their teaching. Paul said to follow him as he followed Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1), but he never wanted anyone to follow him instead of Jesus. One converted to personality is converted to the wrong thing.
Some are converted to social programs. Churches need to both edify and reach out. Fellowship is vital, and socializing together can make us all stronger. The first-century church did this (Acts 2:46). Yet, some make a decision with eternal implications based on what that church has “going on.” Becoming a member of Christ’s church is not the same as choosing a social club, civic organization, or health club. Doctrine matters. A church–even the Lord’s church–may scratch a million social itches and not accurately dispense the balm of Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. One converted to social programs is converted to the wrong thing.
The church must not be or become emotionless. It should be filled with people whose personalities draw all men to Christ, and are as such magnetic (cf. John 12:32). Fellowship together, time spent in recreation and socializing together, should characterize us. Yet, all of these are tools. When they become the end rather than a means to an end, they have usurped their place. With Paul, we must faithfully determine “to know nothing except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). He is the integral, not the incidental. He is pivotal and not peripheral. He is essential rather than esoteric. We must keep the first thing the first thing! Be converted to the Lord!