It’s October, the kick-off to fall, the month of Pumpkin Spice. I’m looking forward to the chill in the air that’s to come. I can’t wait to stop mowing my grass for the season. I’m anxiously awaiting leaves turning from green to yellow and red and watching them drift through the air as they fall to the ground. Autumn is not usually a time of renewal, yet here I am writing and pondering the concept of what it means to be renewed.
Yet if I am to really dig deep into the concept, we first must have a cessation of the way things once were in order to be made new. So, Autumn can be the signaling of things preparing to be renewed. Creation pruning itself of what is old and no longer healthy so that when the weather turns warm again, rebirth and renewal shine through.
In preparation for this writing challenge, I read Romans 12 again. I initially thought I would just dig deep into the first couple of verses, but next thing I knew, I had read chapters 12-15. But today I’m just going to give you some thoughts to ponder regarding Romans 12:2.
The NIV version says it this way:
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.
What I love is his desire for us not to conform to the pattern of this world. What is his good and perfect will? This question is answered over again throughout scripture. Micah 6:8 says, He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Jesus tells inquiring minds throughout his ministry that We are to love God with our heart, soul, and mind, and love others as we love ourselves.
The Message version of verse 2 says this:
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I enjoy the use of the word culture here – Don’t become adjusted to your culture… it drags you down to its level.
That gets me thinking – what culture? Many times we want to think that culture, the patterns we need to avoid are just the “worldly” way of doing things. But we live in a mix of cultures – political cultures, church cultures, regional culture, pop culture. We need to be careful and evaluate all our cultures regularly. Do they reflect the teachings of Christ?
That’s my challenge to you today. I want you to think about the different systems and cultures you’ve surrounded yourself in. And then reread some of Christ’s teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Reread even these last few chapters in Romans (Chapters 12-15). Paul paints a wonderful picture of Christian ethics in the closing chapters in his letter to the Roman church- fleshing out what it truly looks like to renew your mind, transforming it from the patterns of the world and the cultures around you. We’ll be digging deeper into that over the next few weeks.
Study tip: maybe use your Bible app or a multi-version Bible or Biblegateway.com to read it all in different versions for further clarity and understanding. I always enjoy comparing the ESV, NIV, and the Message, among others. I feel like I get a good full picture of what all the translators were aiming for… the English language and all it’s nuances sometimes don’t do the Greek/Hebrew justice.