“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
We change our minds sometimes, don’t we? Just today I had a change of mind. I was heading out to run with Bob in my running shorts. When I walked out the door, I realized it was cooler than I thought, so I changed my mind about the shorts attire and put on long pants.
Right now I am reading a book called The Good and Beautiful God; Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith. He gave me some great insight on spiritual transformation and the need to change some of the thoughts in my mind. I want to live more and more in the likeness of Jesus, but there seem to be patterns in my life that hinder some of the joy and peace that I know Christ wants for me. One of the things that hinders me is my propensity for overload and over commitment. When I get in this state, I feel stressed, hurried, and exhausted. When I read about the life of Jesus, I never get a sense that he felt overloaded or frenzied. So, I do not think this should characterize my life.
In his book, Smith says that to create change in our lives, we need four elements:
1. Change the stories in our minds
2. Engage in new practices
3. Be in reflection and dialogue with others on the same path
4. Be under the leading of the Holy Spirit
Romans 12:2 confirms Smith’s first point by emphasizing that transformation involves renewing our minds (changing the stories we are believing). I realize that some stories I have believed which affect my propensity for overload is: I am indispensable; I must help with every need presented to me. These stories (beliefs in my mind) have to change in order for me to see transformation happen.
What stories do you have in your minds that are preventing transformation? Maybe you believe you are not worthy of God’s love. Maybe you believe that God cannot help you overcome addiction. Maybe you believe you are undeserving of good relationships with others. Maybe you believe you cannot be forgiven of past sins.
I read a verse this week that shows the overwhelming and steadfast love of God:
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 (ESV)
I believe that God’s love for us is constant and powerful. God can help us change the stories in our minds that keep us from having the joy and peace he wants to give us. God can help us serve Him as He desires.
I agree with Smiths encouragement that we need to develop the practices that follow from a renewed mind, that we need Christian community to help us process and support our transformation in Christ, and that we have to rely on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We cannot develop Christ-likeness on our own accord, rather we need God’s power and fellow followers of Christ to journey with us as we seek to live like Christ.
Dr. Teresa Royall