Romans 12:1-2 is perhaps one of the best condensed passages that describe what it means to live out the gospel.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)
You have the living sacrifice of the cross as we are in Christ. You have a life that is in, but not of, this world. You have the old life becoming new as the result of new thinking.
You have all of this then put into practice in such a way that it’s a demonstration of the good and complete will of God.
Very heady stuff. Sounds amazing, but how do we do this? What does it look like? It isn’t a list of “do these specific actions” and “don’t do these.” It’s about new patterns. It’s about learning how to evaluate your everyday actions in light of these things.
To help me remember a way to make these evaluations, I came up with an acronym based on the word RENEW that encompasses these two verses.
This has to do with presenting our bodies, ourselves. The word “present” in context means to present and keep on presenting. In fact, the rest of this passage is a description of what it looks like to present ourselves. We need to look at what we need to release to the Lord as a sacrifice. Most of the time we don’t know we are holding something back that we need to Release. I’ll bet if we ask Him He will tell us.
We can ask ourselves, “What did I keep back from The Lord this week that I need to make available to Him?”
“Do not be conformed to this world.” I love that word “conformed.” It’s a word picture of a malleable material like Pla-Doh. Pla-Doh can be conformed into just about any shape. The world has a shape. If we are intentionally or otherwise being pressed into the world, we will take on the world’s shape. Paul tells us to not let that happen.
We can ask ourselves, “What about me this week was shaped more like the world and less like Jesus? Can it be reshaped, or do I need to get rid of it?”
“But be transformed.” Instead of being Pla-Doh we are to be transformed into something else entirely. The classic illustration of this is a caterpillar into a butterfly, which to me is still an amazing thing to watch. It’s noticeable. Maybe not immediately, but over time it becomes very apparent.
We can ask ourselves, “What did I do this week that was less like the old me and more like Jesus in me?”
“By the renewing of our minds.” The mechanism of our transformation is the renewing of our minds. As we Exchange old ways of thinking for God’s new ways of thinking, as we Exchange how we process the events in and around our lives, we are being transformed into something new (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).
We can ask ourselves, “How was my thinking changed this week and how was that reflected in changed actions, or reactions?”
“That you may prove and do the will of God.” To prove something means to demonstrate the truth of the thing. It means to live it out because it’s true, not try to find evidence and academically provide proof of it. God’s will is good. God’s will is perfect, complete, not lacking anything. Paul is telling us that our lives are to be a demonstration that God’s will is good and lacks nothing.
We can ask ourselves, “What does God want me to learn from Him and then live out this week? How can I demonstrate the reality of what God is doing in me?”
Hopefully this helps provide others with some practical tools to live out the gospel.
RENEW is a part of the Sunday process found in The Rhythm Journal which is something I originally developed for myself and decided to share with others. It is currently on Kickstarter, but the campaign ends Friday, November 10th and Noon Pacific time. If you are interested in more patterns and rhythms you can develop in your life, please check it out and consider backing a journal or two. Thanks, Michael, for the chance to share again.