this passage is a favourite among favourites for me… and there is a lot of good here, but i am particularly talking about chapter 12, the first two verses:

Romans 12.1-2

Romans 12.1-2

‘Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It begins with a ‘therefore’ which is always a reminder that this is part of a bigger story [so never just take one verse by itself] and it is quickly followed by an ‘I urge you’ which tells us that this us something Paul really wants us to hear…

We are reminded that whatever the call that is about to be given is, that we respond to it ‘in view of God’s mercy’ – it is so important that we constantly are reminded of this piece as i think it helps us keep Jesus-following as more of a relationship and less purely a religion – what we do, how we live, who we are is all as a result of the facts that God so loved the world [John 3.16] and even while we were still sinners Christ came to die for us [Romans 5.8].

Having said that, the bit i normally skip over is the bit about how us offering our bodies as living sacrifices [die another day – reference to Luke 9.23 – deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me] is true and proper worship… so maybe a song or a few songs on a Sunday isn’t enough… or a dipping of your hand in your wallet to toss some leftover cash into the plate perhaps… God wants you!

Then, in order to end up at the place where you have tested and approved what God’s will is, there is a don’t and a do.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world.

the way of Jesus is typically the way of swimming upstream – in most cases, if you look around you and everyone is doing the same thing, there is a chance you are not dealing with the kingdom of heaven – look at the life and teachings of Jesus – many times He opens with, ‘You have heard… but I tell you…’ and often He is doing things that are counterculture [such as hanging out with drunkards and prostitutes, giving time to women and children who were the ‘be seen and not heard’ of His day, touching lepers, dining with tax collectors…]

i would take it a step further and say, sadly, that in a lot of cases today you could read this verse as, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this church’ – where churches are full of hate and not love, exclusion and not invitation, judgement and not mercy and compassion, self-centeredness and not outward-focused… well in those cases if we looked at them closely enough we would see that they are not really  church at all.

the point is that it is not enough to compare yourself to other christians and take your standards from there – we need to be lead by the Holy Spirit through the reading of the Bible, especially when it comes to the words and the ways of Jesus.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

what will transform us, is changing our mind. having it renewed by God. and i believe this is an ongoing process. when last did you invite the Holy Spirit to change the way you think about God and life and other people and the way you spend your money and the way you talk to your parents etc?

if our mind has been transformed, then our actions will likely follow. but if we simply try to change our actions [with no transformation of mind] then the results are usually short-lived and ineffective. although, having said that, i do believe that sometimes when we start by changing our actions with the intention of changing our mind, then often the path of doing the transformed action brings the mind along and it is transformed along the way.

[For my next favourite verse which deals with how CRAZY HUGE God’s love for us is, click here]

[For the growing list of all my favourite verses, click here]