Posts Tagged With: St Paul

Is Anybody Listening?

“… so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:5

When Paul encourages Titus, a friend and helper, he urges him to instruct the people of Crete to live in a way that honours the word of God that they profess. In the midst of the heathen culture of the day it was important that the representatives of Christ were seen to be different; following different values and living according to a different world view.

If we cast our eyes around and observe the people who call themselves representatives of Christ, today, what strikes us is that, often, too often, the world is shaping the values of the Christian and the Church. The world’s music, the world’s entertainment, even the world’s priorities (entertainment, pleasure, self importance et al.) too often form the shape of the church, rather than the opposite. Sadly we see it in some leaders of mega churches, T.V. evangelists, Christian media stars and … ourselves.

For the church to be an effective witness to, and alternative from, the world, it needs to reveal a radically alternate way of living, loving, marrying, raising families, working and doing business. In other words, what is required is a people who do not malign the word of God but live it intentionally and intently. We need to be an alternative, not more of the same. I find that Paul’s challenge to Titus resonates today. It is a word for 2011. But is anybody listening?

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Patterns versus Transformation

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  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.  Romans 12:1&2

St Martin-in-the-Fields

There are passages in Scripture that mesmerise me. Romans 12: 1&2 is such a passage. It speaks of the radical (from the root up) difference of the genuinely Christian worldview in contrast to the patterns and habits formed in and by the world. A while back I wrote about God’s Audit. This time I want consider just one phrase.

The phrase that stands out more than the others for me is “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The reason this challenges me is that too often I see the “patterns” rather than the “transformation” in my own life. I see values and attitudes that are not that much different from the world around me, rather than the traits of Jesus.

How does this renewing of the mind take place? What is this renewal?

Sanctification describes the work of the Holy Spirit as God slowly shapes and moulds us into the people He already sees us as, in Christ. Through His Word, Spirit, life experiences, the church and a myriad of other ways God teaches and leads us in His ways. This shaping is a life long process; this shaping is the “transformation” being written about by Paul. It is a heart and mind that seeks more of God and less of themselves. It makes sense that if that is the way we are growing in God, His will then becomes more obvious as we mature and and develop in Him.

There is a responsibility we have and that is to be open and available to that work of God. It nearly sounds cliched but we do need to explore His Word, we ought to be passionate about prayer, our hearts should be open to the leading and nudges of the Holy Spirit and we should be humble enough to accept correction, advice and teaching from those who are mature and firm in their faith. This is all part of the transformative process.

The exciting promise in this verse is the last phrase. The more we are transformed, then the more we are drawn into, and led by, the will of God. The strong implication being, the more we will see Christlikeness in our lives and less of our old selves.

Paul continues in Romans 12 to show what this life looks like. It is a life of grace, sacrifice, blessing, service and forgiveness. Now when the world sees me, if  I am to be effective for God, they need to see Christ, not just someone else who looks like them.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Romans | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

God’s Audit

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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. Romans 12:1&2

There is a natural, or we may call it, human leaning towards complacency. We take people and things for granted. For Christians, sadly, this even includes their relationship with God.

In my own life I find that God confronts that smug self absorption  with the passage above.  For me it is an auditor’s check-list; a reminder of a higher purpose and direction. It is a means to refocus my life.

The check-list is simple, but the challenge profound:

The Challenge: Am I striving to be a living sacrifice? In other words, am I living a life of gratitude to the glory of God, or is it focused on my own wants?

The Warning: Where is my life being shaped by the values and attitudes of the world – those insidious ideas we take on without realising their implications?

The Command: To be transformed. Are my heart and mind open to the restorative and life changing work of the Holy Spirit?

The Reason and Result: Paul reminds me that when the person of faith, lives before God with an openness to His divine hand, then we will be integrated/enveloped by God’s perfect will for His Kingdom and our place in it.

Is this easy? Not in any way as we are often fighting our own perverse wills. Is it important? Certainly! It is about being who God calls you and me to be.

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