Tag Archive: do not conform

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]

it has been in the context of ‘being wronged’ that i have noticed it. and also brought up by an email i received the other day asking how we can be okay with the fact that God ordered genocide in the old testament [a really important question which i have grown up not asking – killing of many in the old testament was always seen as okay because it was ‘the goodies killing the baddies’ and i don’t think i ever stopped to think much at all about the fact that they were real people with families and dreams and so on…]

in terms of someone who i think has caused offence to me [often a dangerous sign – “offence is not given, it’s taken”], there is this inherent thing of violation of my rights [often a dangerous sign – the louder i get about proclaiming something that is seen as a right to me, the more i often need to look deeply within my heart, past my selfishness, pride and greed] and i NEED THIS PERSON TO PAY.

now what is unfortunate is that ‘this person’ is usually someone who is, or was, or should be, close to me [in the story, it is the guy’s brother] and the basic truth of the situation is that i am wanting them to suffer [because they did that thing that was unacceptable to me] and so with the story of the lost son, the father tries to focus on the heart of the story: ‘this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ [verse 32]

the story is of a misguided son who gives in to temptation and greed and heads off and squanders his money and ends up with nothing and returns, absolutely broken, to try and get a job as a servant on his father’s farm… and the older son tries to make it all about himself. WHAT ABOUT ME?

and i’ve seen that in myself, and it is ugly, but while i am feeling offended or holding tightly to my rights, it becomes very easy to forget that this story also involves someone else, who is often broken and hurting and messed up and confused and when Jesus looks at them from the cross and gasps out, “Father, forgive them, for hey do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.34], i can hear myself wailing in the background, “No, wait a minute, what about me? I have been wronged. Is no one going to do anything? What about meeeeeeeee?”

romans 12 talks about us offering our bodies as living sacrifices which are holy and pleasing to God [ones which are screaming “he/she must pay!” may not fit so well into that category don’tchathink?] and goes on to say, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ [Romans 12.1-2] and so once again, we hear that in the kingdom Jesus came to speak about, everything is turnedon its head. What is ‘a right’, is freely given up. Offence is cast to the side.

what is brought to the fore is Love. Crazy, unbelievable, nonsensical, indescribable, ridiculous, make-a-mockery-out-of-offence, sacrificial, unmerited Love.

may that become my go to place. may i be identified more as the father in the story and less as the brother.

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