Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1,2
When I was little there was nothing I thought more torturous to find on my dinner plate than brussel sprouts. All of my adult life even, I could not stomach them–until just a couple years ago when I learned to roast them (with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, and a touch of cinnamon, if you care to know :)). Now, I can’t get enough of brussel sprouts. So what happened? Why did something I had such a strong dislike for become something I craved, literally overnight?
It was because my appetite changed. We know this happens. It is the reason we keep telling our kids to take just one bite of the potatoes or to try the fish again. What once tasted bland or offensive can quickly become something we enjoy and even crave because our appetites change. Perhaps the change comes due to the particulars around the food you ate; something which puts you in a different frame of mind. A tomato from the grocery chain does not compare to the delight of eating one someone grew from a seed. The process in growing it is just as much a part of eating it as is the tomato itself. Experience helps us appreciate these nuances. Maybe we just mature.
If this is true of our taste buds, it is also true of our affections. Take music for instance. I have learned that music is an appetite I need to keep in check in my own life. Music makes a deep impact on my thinking and my emotions. If I am not cautious, I can be easily misled by songs which feed a melancholy sadness or sometimes a rebellious, wayward heart. My mind will dwell on the nuances around a song much like the tomato if I am not careful: where was I when I heard it? What does it remind me of? My own memories become just as much a part of the song as the song itself. For me, this is an area I have to use self-control or else my appetite for music leads me away from the Lord.
Do we recognize that we each have areas where we must tread lightly? These areas will certainly vary from one person to another. For one it could be the kind of reading material they choose. For another it could be where they shop or how they spend money. For others is may be what they allow their eyes to view online.
This is not a nod to legalism, but rather a direct application of Romans 12:2
The passage says: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”
DO NOT be conformed to this WORLD.
To be conformed means “to agree with socially acceptable standards and conventions; to comply with rules, standards, and laws”
The way of the world is filled with ease. It is the wide road which calls to each of us daily: live for yourself now, follow your bliss, let me entice you, don’t be such a prude, nobody thinks like that anymore, who is God anyways?
How easily we can be conformed to this world even as Christians. The ease of the world is a default setting in this life. Except that when we accept Christ as our Lord, we become a new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17) We are now called by Christ to live as sojourners or travelers in this life. This world is not our home! We are made new and we must now die to the old man and live new in the way of Christ, leaving the ways of the world behind.
Romans 12:1, 2 should be a regular part of my thinking so that I am examining where I am allowing my life to drift toward conformity to the world. And there in that passage also lies the antidote to worldly drift.
“But be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind.”
God offers his people a way to live as he asks. We can and will be transformed when we renew our mind in scripture. It is our spiritual act of worship to offer our lives to Him. This truth takes on power when we digest portions of his Word, regularly renewing our sin-sick minds and hearts with the purity of His truths. When we seek to draw near to God, He says He will draw near to us.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, washing our mind and heart in the Word cleanses and renews us. It washes the daily filth away and nourishes us for growth and eternal gains.
My appetite for God’s Word wanes when I am filling my voids with “junk food”. The meat of God’s word sustains for all of life in every season. May we recognize where we are allowing our unhealthy appetites to lead us away from the Lord, purpose to renew our minds in his word daily, and watch how he changes our taste buds and grows our appetites for Him.
If we do not hunger and thirst for Him, perhaps fasting from the things of the world and asking God to give us a hunger for His word will help re-calibrate our appetite for the true, life-giving food of the Lord.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8
In Christ’s Love, Erika