58. to understand the nature of sin, it is important to point out the importance of conversion. for the past two thousand years the church has taught that salvation can be obtained only by faith. it is not a question of doing good deeds in order to be saved, but of believing in the gospel and having this faith, the faith of sinners, and by this faith, the faith of sinners, being reconciled to god and to one another. in this way we understand that conversion is not the result of the work of the church. it is, rather, something that has already taken place in the past. the church is the instrument for enabling people to recognize their sin, to seek pardon for their sins, to be reconciled to god and to one another, and to carry out this reconciliation day by day in their lives. by means of a sincere prayer of repentance, a sincere prayer of conversion, each person begins to grow in the knowledge of god. as the prayer of conversion continues, the will is being formed and the desire to do good grows. once the conversion has taken place, the grace of god begins to work in the interior of the person. it is god who gives this grace, but it is we who receive it, and it is we who must work with this grace. this makes conversion a continual spiritual process. it is not a single moment, not an isolated experience. rather, it is a decisive moment in our lives, where, in a special way, we are united with christ. we are called to conversion, not to a particular form of conversion, but to conversion in general, to conversion in everyday life.
202. god wants us to be a church in the world, in the world, for the world, a church which is a prophetic sign of jesus christ. this does not mean that we can simply scatter ourselves around the world, go wherever the need is greatest, and preach only to people who have already made a commitment to follow jesus. rather, we must have a clear and comprehensive vision of the scope of our mission, which must include all of the peoples of the earth. this is why we cannot be content with viewing the world as it is today, in the light of what we see, and cannot help but embrace the possibilities of the future. this means that we need to have eyes to see and ears to hear. in this respect, we are faced with the need to interpret the signs of the times and to listen to the voices of those whose lives and destinies are at stake, and especially of the young people whom christ calls to be his witnesses. the challenge which this implies is a great one for us; we must always be prepared for the times to come, always listen to those who point us to the world which is becoming and to that which is to come, and always, always listen to the young people, especially the young people of the poor. 3d9ccd7d82