I’m an iPhone user. And I’m currently on my fourth iPhone (it’s actually a little embarrassing when I find myself confessing this publicly). And I use my phone a lot—taking pictures, reading my Bible, posting to Twitter, playing games, staying connected with you through email, and… don’t forget… making phone calls. I think it’s fair to say that I like the iPhone.
So naturally, when a friend or acquaintance of mine gets one of these phones for the first time, I get pretty excited for them. I’m usually the first one in line to offer a word of congratulations and follow that up with some encouraging comment like, “You won’t believe how much that thing will change your life. I can’t believe how much improvement it has made in mine.” And then I almost inevitably ask, “Are you excited? What have you done with it so far?” And when the person tells me some of the things he’s already learned and some of the ways his life has already been improved with the calendar or maps, I say something like, “Oh yeah! I’ve been where you are, man!” And then I almost always try to offer some tip on how that person can better use his or her new device. I don’t want to overload anyone with too much information right away, but my excitement for them compels me to offer some encouraging word of instruction so that the overall experience can be better for that person. And especially if I’m around the person often, I’ll keep up my encouraging comments for several weeks or even months. I often make it a point to ask, “How’s that new phone working out for you? Liking it? Learning some new things about it? Is it still improving your life?” It’s just an exciting thing when someone gets that life-changing opportunity!
I only realized all these things about myself this past week. And when I thought of the level of excitement I have about all this, I was deeply convicted by the excitement—or lack thereof—I show when someone becomes a Christian. Usually, when somebody is baptized, there is a line of people who greet the person and embrace him or her, and then an announcement is made at the next gathering of the church or maybe the next 2 gatherings, and then little more is done for that person. Nice things are said, but there is sometimes a lack of excitement around the magnificent occasion. It is as if some Christians view baptism and discipleship with such a sense of duty that we forget they are in fact exciting developments in the life of one of God’s children. In the past, I’ve looked at a person’s baptism with the attitude that, “Well good. But he probably should’ve done that awhile ago. I don’t know what took him so long to realize what he’s supposed to do.” And all the while, I’m forgetting that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7).
It is by no means because I have conquered this problem that I write this article. I hope you are as convicted by these thoughts as I have been. I hope that the next time we are blessed to know someone who has wholeheartedly committed his life to discipleship, we will be fighting for a position in line to congratulate and encourage with words like, “You won’t believe how much this will change your life for the better. I still can’t believe how much improvement it’s made in mine.” I hope we are the kind of Christians who can hear of the growth of new Christians and respond with, “I’ve been where you are! Learning that attitude and putting it into practice has made all the difference in my work ethic,” or “my relationship with my neighbor,” or “how I spend my money.” I hope that we can are the kind of faithful believers who can offer some tip to a new Christian on how to improve his or her life with this new faith he or she has acquired. We do need to keep in mind not to overload someone right away, but always have an encouraging word to say to keep new Christians moving forward and to remind them what a great blessing their new faith is. And I hope we are the kind of Christians who spend a long time checking up on our fellow Christians. I hope we can sincerely ask each other questions like, “How’s your walk with God?” “How’s your prayer life?” “Have you learned anything new about this faith that has made your life better?”
An iPhone is exciting, and I don’t mean to make anyone feel guilty about getting excited about things in this life. But I do hope that all of us can re-evaluate how we view the birth of a new Christian and be even that much more excited about the new kind of life he or she will have in Christ Jesus!
-Submitted by Dan Lankford