A Reluctant Convert
I recently watched a play titled C. S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert. It’s a one-man play starring Max McLean who gives an outstanding performance which has been recorded as a video for DVD and streaming. The play is about C. S. Lewis’ conversion from being an adamant atheist to a Christian. The dialog is taken verbatim from C. S. Lewis’ writings and gives a thought provoking portrayal of his inner struggle with faith.
C. S. Lewis is known for his very popular Christian writings: Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, etc. and his popular children’s books The Chronicles of Narnia. I personally know several people who have been converted to following Christ after reading Mere Christianity. It is fascinating to hear of his “reluctant” conversion on such personal terms.
The most dramatic conversion story is that of St. Paul (formerly Saul) who was a persecutor of Christians and had Stephen stoned to death. St. Paul was on the road to Damascus to find and arrest Christians when he encountered Jesus Christ:
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9)
Nobody else is like St. Paul. Most of us grow in faith in Christ Jesus over a lifetime through struggles and epiphanies. The disciples of Jesus were often lacking in faith. Consider the story of the disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a great storm arose:
But he [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:38-41)
There is a common element to all conversion stories: fellowship and prayer with other Christians. C. S. Lewis had friends who kindly and patiently challenged his atheism by sharing their faith. St. Paul was prayed over and baptized by Ananias and then was with the disciples in Damascus. Friends of mine who were converted after reading C. S. Lewis were reading the book with other Christians.
The life of faith in Christ Jesus is a life of constant conversion. We need fellowship and prayer with other faithful Christians for this to happen. We are also called to be faithful friends to others who might be “reluctant converts”. There is no such thing as a private faith centered around “me”. There is only Christ found in the midst of where two or three are gathered in His name.
In the grace and truth of Christ,
Pastor James H. Houck