However original their claims appear to be, underlying religions and philosophy and even psychology we find one basic idea: human beings are here to improve. The challenge, of course, is discovering what those improvements need to be and how those changes can become not only possible, but permanent.
What John and Charles Wesley discovered was that people might experience remarkable Christian conversions, but then, as time went by, they’d fall back into the struggle and burden of their lives. This led the Wesleys and others to embrace what they understood to be the Lord’s “second blessing.” It recognizes that, no matter how all encompassing and instantaneous a conversion is, the person God intends us to be emerges more gradually, as Christ’s Spirit works its way in us, making holier lives.
That was certainly true for me. As I wrote in my first book, after my dramatic saving moment of conversion, at the end of that day, who I was in my life had not changed that much—only the burden and the aloneness were gone. Joy was once again possible. But many changes still needed to be made in my life. The Spirit’s remodeling job of regeneration was and still is far from over for me.
That’s what makes Christianity unique. Jesus Christ didn’t just come two thousand years ago, demand our conversion, and then stand back to evaluate how well we do. The living Lord is beside each of us right now, inspiring our hearts, enabling kinder, gentler motives and making greater charity possible. When we let go of the person we are trying to make ourselves be, when we yield, who we are in Christ starts to emerge. “Through him” we become better than we could ever be alone. For me, that’s the “second blessing.”
Dear Lord, make me better, Better than what I’ve been. Help me to feel thy favor, Bless me over again. (Living Calm 2016)