Ansar became a New Testament Christian on February 29, 2004. He was a member of this congregation for a number of years, but has moved to New York City and attends a congregation there now. However, in the recent years he has applied for asylum from the US on the basis of his conversion to Christianity, Feb. 29, 2004. I went with him to court in Boston a few weeks ago. One of the major questions that his lawyer told him would be asked is how he could prove that he was a sincere Christian and had not converted for the purposes of simply attaining asylum in the US. This caused me to do a lot of thinking, while I was waiting outside the courtroom, during the proceedings, if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? And what might be considered proper evidence?
Well, of course, there would be your first confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, followed by your baptism into the name of Jesus Christ. This is important, of course, and would be a major piece of proof that you are a Christian. But what else?
You may come to church frequently, I hope every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday Bible study. We know that Hebrews 10:24,25 tells us that this is an important Christian activity not only for ourselves, but for all the rest of the church. It is one of the ways that Ansar demonstrated his faith over the past 8 years. Where we choose to be at times when the church is called to assemble says something about whether you are really a Christian or not. But is there anything more?
How about the fruit of the Spirit — the cooperation we give to the Spirit’s guidance in Scripture to the inner man, that is shown in how our lives change? Has your life changed? Do you remember the sinful things that you used to do? Is it evident that you changed those things in your life; have others noticed it? Have you grown in your diligence, in your faith, in your moral excellence, in your knowledge of Scripture, in your self-control (in both what you stay away from and what you do despite your aversion to it normally), in your perseverance, in your godliness, in your brotherly kindness, and in your love? (2 Peter 1:5-7). Change and growth is a crucial part of Christianity, because it is a crucial part of repentance. So is that all?
I think if I were a judge trying to discern whether or not someone was sincere in their conversion, I’d take a look at the hardship he/she was willing to endure for their faith. You know, trial truly is like the smelter’s fire separating the sincere from the insincere (1 Peter 1:7). We aren’t, of course, fed to the lions these days — but how have you endured trial? How have you handled the scoffing or scorn of your friends and family? Did you change how you acted, when doing right wasn’t cool? Did you compromise your principles or become a “shrinking violet”, when your popularity or your job were endangered? Discipleship to Jesus takes courage and conviction, and these will be evident in the Christian’s life.
It is a important and potentially disturbing question: Would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? Happily, the judge perceived Ansar’s conversion to follow Jesus as credible and sincere and granted him asylum. How would the great Judge judge you, if He were to come today? Would there be enough evidence in your life?