Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 29 2013 - Romans 12:1-21 – Conforming or transforming?

Do not conform any longer 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. (Romans 12:2)

These, surely, are some of the most challenging words in Scripture. It’s hard to overestimate the extent to which our lives are shaped by the pattern of the world around us: our behaviour; our assumptions, aspirations and hopes; our priorities and the things to which we devote our time and energy. We were made to be social creatures and sociability and acceptability require conformity – conscious and unconscious, deliberate and accidental.

But God is in the business of transformation. This present age is marked up for demolition. God has grand plans for a new creation and a new world order, and he has begun the work of transformation in us whom he has brought out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his Son. We are to live the life of the age to come in the context of this present age; no easy calling. Our lives are to stand out as radically different from the lives of those around us; no comfortable calling. This can only be achieved by a process of continual transformation – it is a life that can be lived only by the power of the Spirit. It is those who are filled with the Spirit and who walk in the step with the Spirit who live transformed and transforming lives.

What does this demand of me? What does it mean to be so transformed in mind that my life is shaped by the call and will of God rather than by the pattern of this present age? Here’s a good place to start:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. (12:9-13)

The Christian life can seem very demanding, but we need to remember that we are not called to live it on our own. And here I do not mean that we have the help of the Spirit – though that is as true as it is essential. What I mean is that we are called to live out this life in community. This is the point that Paul is making in verses 3-8. We are members of one body where we each belong to one another.

As I said, we are social creatures who find it all too easy to conform to the behaviour of those around us. Let’s use this as a strength rather than seeing it as a weakness; let’s encourage one another in Christian fellowship as we seek to be conformed to Christ together. Let’s set up a counter-culture which will display the kingdom of God and the presence and power of Christ and will make the world sit up and take notice.

What is going to shape your life today?

Heavenly Father, I praise you that in your goodness you have made me a member of your family through the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach me what it means to live as your child, devoted to the other members of your family, learning from them and encouraging them in the life of the kingdom. Help me by your Spirit to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. May I maintain my spiritual fervour, never be lacking in zeal but serve you faithfully and cheerfully.

Peter Misselbrook