The Parson is Converted!

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Lars Janssen

I recently read of a pastor named William Haslam (1817-1905), who was ordained into the Church of England in 1842. An interesting feature of this man’s ministry career is that he didn’t become a Christian until 1851. He diligently ministered to his congregation of Christians in North Cornwall—without himself being a Christian—for nine years until one Sunday, when he preached from Matthew 22:42, “What do you think about the Christ?”

As he preached, the Holy Spirit confronted Haslam, brought him to a decision, and saved his soul right in front of his congregation. It’s said that the immediate change in Haslam was so obvious to the watchers that another local preacher, who was there that day, stood excitedly and shouted out, “The parson is converted! Hallelujah!” The entire service then erupted into shouts of praise from the three or four hundred congregants, including Haslam himself, which was followed by prolonged and joyful singing.

As you might imagine, the wonder of William Haslam’s conversion reverberated through the land and it lit the fire of revival in his day. And after being saved, Haslam himself carried on a somewhat unexpected ministry through which many other unbelieving pastors became Christians!

It all began with the question, “What do you think about the Christ?” Haslam had to have thought about Jesus before that day—after all, he had been ordained to the Church of England nine years earlier and must have preached numerous sermons—but what kinds of things did he think? Did he rehearse facts, as the Pharisees did? Their response was to say that the Christ was “the Son of David.” This was true, but there is so much more!

We are so quick to define Jesus as the sum of a set of facts—as if we could encapsulate the Son of God perfectly in human language. Our weakness—the same weakness from which Haslam was freed—is that we only think about Christ as a single object to be considered in space and time. A single object can be avoided, limited, ignored, or set aside. Jesus is so much more. Jesus is not an option among many, he is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29) of whom angels and heavenly men sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12)

The change in Haslam on that Sunday in 1851 was not that he began to think more about Christ, but that the Holy Spirit showed him that he could no longer think of anything else. This is what begins to happen when we are saved. Yes, we may think about Christ, but we also start to see everything else through Him, with Him, and for Him. Our vision of everything around us begins to become consumed with Jesus. Our purpose in breathing, eating, speaking, seeing, and being becomes bound up in Jesus.

So ask yourself, as William Haslam did that day, “What do you think about the Christ?” Be honest. If your answer falls short, as mine often does, it’s time to pray. Only the Holy Spirit can show us how to see Christ in everything so that we realize that He is too big to keep in and too wonderful to be set aside. When all we think about is Jesus, we have to sing or cry out our version of, “The parson is converted! Hallelujah!”

May our open-hearted joy in Jesus light a fire of revival in Brantford!

All Challenge Central devotionals »

« On The Road to Recovery
A Step of Transition »