My youngest granddaughter Megan is at the stage where she mimics everything. If you say a word, she tries to repeat it. If her sister does something, she has to try it. We all do this to one degree or another. Trying new things is simply a form of learning. It’s like putting on a new pair of pants to see if we feel comfortable in them. So much of our daily living, our attitudes, our actions, our likes and dislikes, our vocabulary, our prejudices, and our desires are shaped by the world around us. We try to fit in; to mold ourselves to those around us. We learn what is acceptable and what is frowned upon by observation, imitation, and whether our attempts are received or rejected. That’s the way the world works.
Jesus wants something more than a mere re-molding of our attitudes, actions, likes, dislikes, vocabulary, prejudices, and desires. Following Christ is about change and metamorphosis. Paul wrote to the Romans, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NASB95) In this verse, the word “world” could also mean “age” as in the current political, social, and cultural climate of our lives. In a way, there are many “worlds” that seek to mold our lives.
What are the things in your world that demand conformity? There are many sources of “political correctness”. Pressures from peers, co-workers, bosses, and others seek to shape who we are and how we act. Everything that comes from the Internet, television, and radio wants to shape us in some way. Our families mold us in ways that we may not understand or see. Our church family can advocate aspects that are more conformational than transformational. Even those that seek to rebel against accepted standards are still conforming to something. The point is that there are many pressure points in our daily lives that desire to mold us into their perception of “normal” and acceptable.
On the other hand, Paul encourages transformation; change, metamorphosis, rebirth, a new creation, resurrection. In another part of Romans Paul says, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4, NASB95) Walking with Jesus is not conforming to a different normal; it is a fundamental and unalterable transformation at the very core of our being.
In our initial verse from Romans 12, Paul specifically points out a transformation of the mind. He’s not talking about brain surgery or some kind of new psychology but a rebirth in the way we think about things. Much of our old thinking was guided by the need for acceptance and validation. We wanted to fit in so that others would like us or see our importance and value. Or perhaps we took the alternate route of rebellion and gained validation from being rejected. Unless we are careful, we bring those same needs and desires into our relationship with Jesus and our church family. In other words, we can be addicted to conformity and trade one addiction for another instead of experiencing a real metamorphosis. The joy of the gospel is that we are not called to fit in but to be utterly transformed in the way we think about things.
What does the transformed mind think about? How does our new thinking fundamentally change our daily living, our attitudes, our actions, our likes and dislikes, our vocabulary, our prejudices, and our desires? Let me just say that it’s like the difference between a tadpole and a frog – everything changes. Our perspective changes from me-centered to God-centered. Our priorities change. How we view others and the hope we have for them radically swings in a new direction. Most of all we join in with the prophet Isaiah and declare – “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” (Isaiah 26:8, NIV)
My encouragement is to do some self-examination. What part of your life is God desiring to transform? What areas have you merely conformed to a standard instead of allowing Jesus to bring real, deep, and vital transformation?
Note: As I review this piece for republishing I see the need to make an addition. Confirmation is taking the same old material and reshaping it for use in a new way. Like taking used plastic bottles and making birdhouses out of them. Same material, same shape, different use. Transformation is the conversion of one thing into something that is substantially different. Like transforming used plastic bottles into plastic chairs. Alike at one level but completely different in their shape and purpose. In Christ, we retain our humanness, but our shape and purpose are radically transformed. Dale, Feb 9, 2018.