Somebody recently asked me about my Christian conversion experience forty-one years ago. In some ways it seems so long ago and yet in other ways as though it was yesterday.
My conversion brought me out of addiction and restored my life. In meeting Jesus Christ, my life was salvaged and renewed.
I was engulfed by a torrent of sensations and emotions: shame and guilt at my sinfulness, a great sense of awe, quickly followed an intense desire to be right with God. Confession, repentance, sweet reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice at Calvary. Something changed! Everything changed! There was an inexplicable quaking deep within me at a soul-level. It was a timeless moment that seemed to come to me from across the ages. I met the Messiah, the Creator time and space, all creation, and all things, seen and unseen.
As I grew in faith, the holy Spirit (the spirit of Truth) began to indwell.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”—Ephesians 1.13
It was like fire that warms yet convicts, instructing, leading, teaching, the voice of discernment, when to speak and when to listen. When degenerative neurological disease came, it was the spirit of truth that told me when to hold on and when to let go. Strangely and wonderfully, I also began to experience immense raids of JOY I had not experienced since very early childhood, at the very dawn of my memory. In this joy, or what C.S. Lewis called “enormous bliss,” came the knowledge that I had always been loved, not from my birth, but before my birth. And I knew I would never be the same again.
Thus began my Christian pilgrimage toward the Celestial City (to use a phrase of John Bunyan’s Christian classic book Pilgrim’s Progress.)
My conversion in 1980 left me with a near continual desire or yearning for heaven. I know this is not unique to me. Saint Paul spoke of this. There is a universal longing for heaven —although those who have not met Christ cannot place or identify what they long for nor identify the root of the deepest sweet desire that they have always had. I believe this is the image of God within them crying for heaven.
Again, C.S. Lewis spoke about this innate and universal longing for heaven in a sermon he delivered in 1942, in Oxford England, at the height of the second World War. It was entitled The Weight of Glory. Lewis described this desire as a longing for a far-off country we have not visited:
“In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, … I feel a certain shyness. … I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness, … we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves. … Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that settled the matter. … The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. … For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
Lewis later mentioned his own ancient longing, his “enormous bliss” in his remarkable little book entitled Surprised by Joy.
About most things I know very little or nothing. But I do know this: The indelible Image of God is bestowed upon every human being at their beginning (conception). That’s what gives every person inestimable value and natural dignity. Everyone is worthy of God’s love—and they are loved by God. (He desires their love and reconciliation through His Son.)
If inalienable rights really do exist—as the towering foundational American Declaration claims—they come from a "Creator" (God) and cannot be taken from people. They do not come from governments or they can also be taken away with a stroke of a pen. Inalienable rights may be robbed from a person, but their right to life, to rise to their fullest potential, and respect for their natural dignity are their endowment, their spiritual inheritance. What are those rights? They begin with right to life. The right to life is first and highest human right because all other rights are dependent upon it. Without the right to life guaranteed, all other rights become arbitrary and uncertain. Human life is sacred; it deserves protection, care, and nurture in body, mind and spirit.
In drawing closer to God, we naturally become more concerned for our neighbour's welfare. This a natural outgrowth of Jesus words:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first great command. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself." — Matthew 22.37-39.
The first love for God naturally leads to the second. To love God with one's whole being leads to love of neighbour, because God cares about those within our purview, and how we treat them. The more we love God the more we will love one another. The more we love one another the more we will be concerned for their natural rights such as their right to life and the right to for them to rise to their full potential that God intended when He created them and indelibly stamped His image on them.
I am reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt's words:
'Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.'12
The former First Lady named her fine 1958 speech "Where Do Human Rights Begin?" The venerable UN Chair of the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights words were true in as much as the physical places where human rights happen. But human rights actually begin long before then. They begin in human hearts and consciences. This is the beginning of recognizing genuine human rights, regardless of what any government or legislature may declare. Human rights germinate in the heart before they are expressed in daily lives of people. I believe the source of human rights actually lies in the truth that every human being is endowed by God with His Image at that spark of life commonly referred to as conception. This is the where and why of human rights. When this is recognized, we will place other peoples' best interests ahead of our own.11
Love is the fuel of human rights that can be traced back to God. God is love.10 A community of people who understand this is a community where everyone is more concerned for the others than themselves. And when that happens, national human rights can thrive and do thrive. It defines community. The most vulnerable amongst us are safe and loved. A place where each person is concerned about his or her own rights and places their own rights ahead of other people's rights is not really community at all. Selfishness abounds and unnatural desires become paramount. Natural human rights under God are denied and decried. The most vulnerable eventually become unwelcome and unsafe.
Atheism's foundation does not logically support human rights. If human beings are just creatures, another species among many species that evolved from primordial slime, then there's no logical basis or reason for rights of any kind. Mob rule rules. Perceptions, instincts and convenience replace right and wrong and are replaced with "values" and "my truth" of the unholy trinity of Me, Myself and I. There is no place for objective truth that exists outside the individual. Right and wrong or morality are meaningless. What's correct is defined by dominant prevailing winds of thought that pleases the mob, at any given point in time. But in the end, chaos takes over. Even the mob turns in on itself. Might makes right. That is the abyss upon which western civilization now teeters and totters. We live in dangerous and treacherous times.
This brings me back to the Holy Spirit. Followers of Jesus Christ must continually rely upon the Holy Spirit to give them discernment and wisdom beyond their own insight. Perhaps someone may ask "How can I discern between the voice of the the Holy Spirit and my own desires or other Spiritual Voices?" Good question. After all, Satan can appear as an angel light, make what is unholy appear as holy and sin appear as virtue. As we descend into a cesspool of moral corruption of the 21st century, how can we discern rightly? The Apostle John told us:
"Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of Go; because many false prophets have gone into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. ..."13
Never allow yourself to become entangled with the world. We who confess that Jesus Christ is Lord are to be in the world but not part of the world. Be wise and serpents and harmless as doves.14 Remember, the devil prowls the earth like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. The Apostle Peter told us to resist him steadfast in faith.15 Any spirit that contradicts the Bible is not of God.
These are treacherous times, fellow Christian brother and sister. We must proclaim Jesus Christ to a lost, rebellious, hostile world. Don't expect an easy time. Remember the love and inexpressible joy of our Lord Jesus Christ that you yourself have experienced. Take that love into a loveless landscape all around us. God bless you as you go.
 Colossians 1.13-14.
 John 1.1-3.
 Colossians 1.16-17,
 John 14.17, 1Corinthians 2.12-16.
 Psalm 139.13-18. Isaiah 49.1, Jeremiah 1.5, 31.3. Ecclesiastes 11.5b. Perhaps someone may think that because God was talking to Old Testament titans of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the same attention in utero was just for them. Not true! See Malachi 2.10a, Job 31.15, 1Corinthians 8.6, Ephesians 4.6
 2Corinthians 5.2 -8, Philippians 1.231-23.
 C.S. Lewis, They Asked for a Paper (London, Geoffrey Bles, 1962) p.200.
 Genesis 1.26-27, 5.2.
 John 3.16-17. Cf. Exodus 20.13, Deuteronomy 4.32, Psalm 8.4-5.
 1John 4.7-16.
 Philippias 1.27-2.4. Cf. John 13.34-35, 1John 3.11 & 23.
 Eleanor Roosevelt speech to the United Nation, "Where Do Human Rights Begin?" https://www.amnesty.org.uk/universal-declaration-human-rights-UDHR
 1 John 4.1-3a, 1 Corinthians 12.3,
 Matthew 10.16
 See 1 Peter 5.7-9a.