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. Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Yesterday we began investigating the “and so” great-divide; Paul took 11 chapters to describe the “grace-side” of God’s love. Chapter 12 begins with “and so,” indicating that what comes next is based on everything previous. Because of God’s grace we are new creations, and we respond with new ways of living. That new life is counter-cultural. Christian non-conformists resist our culture’s control.
Non-conformity – the word itself dredges up images of rebellion against the status-quo. Paul said not to take on the behavior and customs of this world; don’t be conformed…be a non-conformist.
To what customs and behavior is the apostle referring? The list is endless, but here’s a sample:
These words are all adjectival modifiers of what is basically selfish behavior. It is the fruit of what we have been building into each generation since the Garden of Eden – me-ism. We call it self-esteem but its real name is me-first!
Paul says, don’t buy-into that! His counsel is:
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12:3 (NLT)
Whenever we measure ourselves against God as the standard, what do we find? I know what I find – a sinner for whom Christ died, needing all the other sinners for whom Christ died!
Paul understood that about himself; he even called himself the chief of sinners. That’s why he could also tell us to resist this world’s customs and behavior, even though that is exactly who we are naturally …deceitful, materialistic, backbiting, immodest, and so on. Our sin nature wants to survive and control us.
But Paul said a Christian non-conformist does what is reasonable (rational) for a believer; a Christian non-conformist resists his sin nature and responds to the new nature of Christ within, because we are forgiven.
Is your printer working? (If not maybe you can do this in your mind)
Ask God to search your heart while you cut out the picture of words above (Immodest, Vindictive, Materialism…etc.).
Lay them before you and let each word sink in.
As the written word becomes a picture in your mind, seek to locate times you’ve acted that way when you interact with others. Then confess it and let it go by asking God to help you love others better than that.
The “…and so” divide isn’t easy. Basking in the forgiveness of grace is easier than living in the maturity of extending grace to others. In fact, when you do this, the temptation to cross back over becomes greater; pushing-on takes more energy.
And that’s how you know you’re going in the right direction.
Press-on, Christian believer; the cost is worth it!
Title Photo: http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/30018/the_great_divide6.jpg