RENEWED MINDS Romans 12:2a Week 2
- What does the word “Transform” mean to you?
In verse 2 Paul tells us that the world has a way of thinking, a pattern. He then exhorts us, first, not to be conformed toit and, secondly, to be transformed fromit. This transformation takes place as we surrender our minds, along with our lives, to God’s will. Often Christians presume that what makes us fundamentally different from the world is our outward behaviour or lifestyle, or even the clothes that we wear (or don’t wear!). However, these are secondary issues as it’s our thinking that really transforms us. Can you see how important this area is? If renewing the mind is meant to play such a key role in my life then this is something worth pursuing. I cannot afford to remain passive about this in any way. The way I think affects my hopes, fears, how I react to people. It even affects the way I handle my job, relate to my family and respond to pressures. No wonder Christians stand out from society when their thinking changes!
Notice that Paul uses the words ‘transformed’ and ‘renewing’, which both imply something that changes gradually. In fact the Greek word Paul uses to convey this sense of transformation is the source of where we get our word ‘metamorphosis’. You still have your old mind when you become a Christian, but it needs to undergo a complete and radical metamorphosis. Verse 3 demonstrates the immediate way in which I think differently about myself and those around me when renewal begins to take place in my mind.
Are you a ‘conformer’ or a ‘transformer’?
What you’re doing right now is a vital part of the process of renewing your mind (v 2). A good test to find out which areas may need further renewal is to look at different areas of our lives, eg family, work, leisure, finances, politics, relationships, and to ask what difference being a Christian makes to how we think about these things. The list of gifts which follows in verses 6–8 shows the breadth of ways in which we can serve God with its mix of upfront and one-to-one activities, and its refusal to divide the ‘spiritual’ from the ‘practical’.
If you know you need a transformation from this world’s way of thinking, then ask God to begin (or continue) renewing your mind, as you daily compare your thought patterns with biblical teaching.
- Use the words of the following song by Tim Hughesas a prayer or act of worship:
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
Bless Your name, bless Your name, Jesus
And the deeds of the day and the truth in my ways
Speak of You, speak of You, Jesus
For this is what I'm glad to do
It's time to live a life of love that pleases You
And I will give my all to You
Surrender everything I have and follow You
I'll follow You
Lord, will You be my vision, Lord, will You be my guide
Be my hope, be my light and the way
And I'll look not for riches, nor praises on earth
Only You'll be the first of my heart
I will follow
I will follow
I will follow You
Will we come into a new place of freedom by believing what God says about us?
Becoming a Christian meant a dramatic change in my life, but I soon became aware that I had a great deal of progress to make in my thinking. My mind was still affected by my past and vulnerable to the pressures of the present. Of course I am now a new creation, but in my thinking I can still be a product of my background, my upbringing. For example, some people’s self-image is shaped by having been constantly told by their parents that they were a disappointment; others have been raised to always be on their guard against people and so never get close to anyone.
When I encounter God’s Word it often challenges the thought patterns established over many years. Then I come to realise that I’m the beloved of God and accepted as I am, so I no longer feel that I have to do better in order to be accepted; I already live without condemnation.
We all have a choice to make in this area. Do we allow ourselves to be dominated by past influences that have affected our thinking? Will we come into a new place of freedom by believing what God says about us? Freedom is certainly one of the wonderful consequences of our minds being renewed. (See Galatians 5, 1 and 2 Corinthians 5:17)
It is not only our past that can affect us. Liberal thinking has managed to change the morality of a whole generation in only a few years. How has your thinking been shaped by the pressure of the culture around you? ‘Permissive pressures’ surround us. How might the ethos of ‘if it feels good it must be good’ have affected your attitudes and choices, perhaps unwittingly?
We all face ‘material’ pressures too. Do you feel a need to chase after the latest gadget or designer label? Has this drive ever threatened your financial standing?
Spend some time rereading Romans 8, prayerfully, to get God’s Word into your mind. It is time for our thinking to be moulded by God’s truth, not by our past ways of thinking or our present culture.
OF ONE MIND
Renewing the mind is not just an individualistic experience. As part of our local church we are encouraged to know the mind of Christ corporately (see 2 Corinthians 13:11). We are to be ‘perfectly united in mind and thought’ (v 10), instead of immature and divided (vs 11,12). The more we grow together the more we should expect to hear God’s voice to us as a people.
The early church often reached the state of being of one mind, even over complex issues (see Acts 15:1–29). Like them, our church needs to pray together (often!), study the Word, receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our gatherings, dialogue with one another and follow those who lead us; when this happens regularly, increasingly we will be of one mind.