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The Blue Card Christian

by john o’keefe


It wasn’t long after I became a Christian when I felt the call to “ordained” ministry.  To be honest, at first I thought some Tums could take care of it, but no matter how many I popped, the desire was still there.  I was about ready to get that “purple little pill” in hopes that would work.  I could never figure out why God put this burn in my heart, but He did and so I followed.  When I first started in the process of ordained ministry I was asked by a group of ministers to “give my testimony” of “my conversion experiences;” and to “please give dates” of my conversation, call to ministry and my call to ordained ministry – boy was I in a world of hurt, and no “purple” anything would help.


I had no idea what to do.  Dates?  They want what?  They want dates?  Heck, I could hardly remember my birth date (thank God for my drivers license) or my anniversary (thank God for a loving wife) let alone my “date of conversion.”  I mean, granted I have a Palm (Tungsten E) but those dates are not in it, I checked, three times.  So, what do I do?  What did I do?  I was honest and I admitted that I did not know the “dates.” It was like being in an old Sprint commercial, you could have heard a pin drop.  After a few seconds (and what seemed to be years) of this awkward silence they asked if I would “share” my testimony and call, centering on my Chistology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology and Hamartology.  I know I looked like a deer standing in the middle of the road with glazed eyes looking at the lights of a semi just before I become road pizza.  I had no idea what to say – none of those words meant anything to me.  For all it matters, they could have asked, “Tell us about your smug-waggle-wangy and your rump-stinger-wonger, with your understanding of how all that ties together in the fang-stanger-weesly of God” because both would have come across the same way.  This time, not only did they get the “deer look” but my jaw dropped and I lost my gum.   So, I was thanked for coming and asked to wait outside.


After some time the meeting ended and all the “power brokers” of the church came out and walked right past me, without even saying anything – in fact ignoring me the whole time.  I felt like a two-foot high child standing in a hallway with nine-foot giants.  When it was all over, I was told by the head of the committee that they had questions concerning my conversion because I could not come up with an exact time, place and experience to explain the event; She said, “Every true Christian can give the exact time, place and even that shows they are truly saved.”  Wow, no one told me.  I had no idea that there was a “special, secreted, double coded blue card” to this thing we call “Christianity.”  Heck, if I had known that I would have asked the Holy Spirit to punch my card and give details.  She said that they were also concerned with my “inability to explain my call in relationship to, and with, Christian terms.”


Needless to say I was very confused.  How could this be?  I mean, I have read that Paul had a certain experience, but he never said that the date was to be remembered.  Even though he had a “conversion” experience, his faith was a faith in process.  Peter was in process; James was in process; Jude was in process – so, what is wrong with being in process?  None of the writes of Scripture spoke in “Christian” terms, they spoke as they did naturally.  What is wrong with not knowing the exact date of a “conversion” experience?  “Christian terms?”  What are “Christian terms?”  I had no idea that there was a special language to getting into the club.  This experience caused me to be more confused about everything – I almost gave up at that point.


Now, I figured that was “just them” and that not “all” Christians felt that way – well, I was somewhat wrong; while not all, a great many do think that way.  It seems that over my time in ministry, the idea of “dates,” “conversion” and “secret language” have become more important.  I have been turned down for positions because I could not (actually would not) give a “date of conversion” or a “testimony of conversion” or write my “testimony” in “Christianese.” In the very beginning of my faith walk it actually got to the point where I was thinking of making up a story and a date so that I could “be in the club.”  But then I realized that I did not want to lie, and if that is what it took to be in the club then I did not desire to join.  I started to figure, if God gave me this mind, this experience, and this reality then there needed to be a reason and I was not going to “change” to make some people happy.  It seems that many think the idea is wrong, but they are willing to play the game to make others happy.  But not me, I can’t do that kind of thing.  So, here is what I do now; when asked about my conversion I try to answer, “Well, It’s all in process.”


I think as people of faith we are more concerned with club entry points, secrete languages and special handshakes then we are of the process of our faith walk.  I have a friend who is a Mason, and he once made a very interesting comparison between the church and “secret societies.”  He said, “To get into a Lodge, you need a ‘blue card’ and you need to know a special word, and speak a special code language.”  He then added, “In the church you need a “date card” and you need to know the special secret code words based on the denomination.”  In fact, he told me that any member of the Lodge can challenge a visitor to that Lodge to make sure that the visitor is a real Mason; and how they test?  They take the person in the back and ask certain questions with “special” words looking for a certain answer – and that answer needs to be “right” or they are not allowed in the meeting.


“Conversion” people like dates.  I think they like it so they can do silly things like having “conversion birthday parties” (I actually know a church that celebrates them).  They question those who come into the church so that they know that the person they are talking too is truly part of a “true” community.  They notice dress, body language, and other things that show to them that those they are speaking too are “like us.”   But in that, they show that the church centers on conversion and not kingdom.


Kingdom does not care if you carry a “date,” speak a certain language or dress a certain way.  Kingdom people are not concerned if you are ever that way.  They are concerned with your walk in faith, as God is telling you to walk.  For those of us who have had a different experience, a process, then the “conversion” people, we feel like undocumented aliens in that world.  We fear saying anything because we don’t speak the language and we feel that if we do the “Christian Police” will come and tell us to leave.  I have found that “conversion people” see their church as their “country” – while “kingdom people” see their community as the world.  AS a community of faith we need to get past the idea of “conversion” and get into the process of kingdom growth



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