Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I have read this passage many, many times over the years. It’s one of my personal favorites. However, today I’m seeing some elements here I’ve not paid attention to before. There are a pair of interesting contrasts to observe.
In verse 1, the apostle Paul is making reference to the temple practice of killing animals (cattle, goats, sheep, doves, and so on) which were then offered to God as sacrifices. Paul is suggesting that followers of Jesus are also sacrfices, just not dead ones. We are live sacrifices offering our physical bodies to the Lord. Certainly on a day like today, Good Friday 2015, we remember that we were bought with a price – the sacrifice of God’s only son Jesus on the cross.
However, it’s the second contrast that grabs my attention more this morning. It comes from verse 2:
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In this verse Paul is moving from discussion of the body to that of the mind. Paul tells us that, if we are to discern the will of God (which we all want to do as followers of Jesus), our minds need to be “transformed”. The Greek word here is “μεταμορφόω” from which we get the English word “metamorphosis”. A common example of “metamorphosis” is the changing of a caterpillar to a butterfly, which involves not just an external change, but internal as well.
What’s required is a complete and utter overhaul in our way of thinking.
What does this mean? It means that, as we are conformed more and more into the ways of thinking like Jesus, we will think differently than the world around us. Our ways will not square with what others think they should be. Our opinions will not be readily embraced. This has ALWAYS been the case for Christians, from the earliest days through today. Why?
Because God’s ways are not our ways – and by “our” ways, I mean the world’s ways.
Just yesterday I was driving by a large Roman Catholic church in my community. Displayed near the road I saw a number of small white crosses, perhaps several dozen. I wondered what those crosses were about, then I saw a small sign declaring the crosses as a public protest against the continued practice of abortion in the United States.
I am not Roman Catholic, but I have great respect for a church that is willing to take a public stand against what is so obviously a terrible injustice and moral failure. Intentionally taking the life of an unborn child is not a reproductive right. It is the taking of a life. Should there be space for nuance in the matter – such as in the case of threat to the life of the mother, rape/incest, or other circumstances? Of course. Unfortunately, the practice of abortion remains far too broad, in my opinion. It is scandalous.
This is an obvious example of thinking differently than the broader culture, but there are many more. Has me asking myself:
1. Where is my faith challenging me to think differently than the world around me?
2. Where does my mind need to be “metamorphosized”?
3. Am I regularly seeking the grace of God to transform my mind?
4. Am I willing to endure the disapproval of others?
Lord Jesus, on Good Friday we again give you thanks for the price you paid for us – that we might be reconciled to the Father through you. Give us grace to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and to have courage in the face of a disapproving world. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.