How To Embrace Christ As Your Savior
And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39
Is it possible for you to embrace Jesus Christ as your Savior, but not really as your Lord? Put it another way: Can you take this whole business in stages, believing some things but not really becoming a radical? “After all,” you may reason, “I want to go to heaven but I don’t want to get fanatical about this whole business.”
Long ago a young man struggled with this very issue. In his youth his sexual escapades were well known. According to his own testimony he was trapped, as he put it, in “the swirling mists of lust” that thrust him into the “whirlpools of vice.” He went to church and maintained a facade of religious respectability, but as he later reflected on his behavior, he considered his life to be an intolerable moral contradiction. The man’s name? Today we know him as St. Augustine, but a saint he was not in the early years of his life. Eventually Augustine was attracted to a famous preacher who was the Bishop of Milan, and listening to Ambrose, Augustine began to see himself as he really was. Eventually he was converted and his life was changed completely.
Augustine didn’t believe that you could embrace Christ as your Savior apart from bowing your knee in submission and recognition of His Lordship. Writing of Augustine’s concept of discipleship, Richard Foster says, “Augustine did not believe, as is so common today, that one could be a convert to Christ without being a disciple of Christ. For him, conversion and discipleship were two sides to the same door–both were necessary for one to pass through the doorway. He knew that ‘receiving Christ’ required a radical re-ordering of his life. He had counted the cost and understood that conversion meant a lifestyle without his mistress and a profession other than rhetoric, which he believed taught `the arts of deception.’
“Even more, he knew that turning to Christ meant turning from the arrogance and intellectual pride that had driven him so fiercely… For Augustine, conversion was not assenting easily to a few propositions; it was restructuring his whole life.”
What does it mean to be a Christian today? Join a church? Sign a card? Raise your hand in a service? Before you answer, ponder a few of these statements. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then reflect on Jesus’ stern words to His disciples: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
At some point, if your commitment is genuine, it must go so deep that your behavior and lifestyle are affected; apart from this your commitment is only theory. Again Jesus challenged the disciples, “Why do you call Me Lord and do not the things I command you?” (Luke 6:46).
Life is too short to play games, to go through the motions of pretending to be what you are not. If you see in Augustine’s struggle something of your life, it may well be because you have never really been converted. You may even know the language and have your friends fooled, you may even know the motions of it all, but you don’t know the reality. And if so, you are the only one who can turn it around. So why not say, “Yes, Lord! You are not only my Savior, but You are my Lord as well!”
Resource reading: Luke 18:18-30.