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.
There doesn’t seem to be much good news around at the moment, does there? I suppose there’s nothing unusual about that, but the economic news in particular at the moment seems to be rather distressing. The global economy seems to be in tatters, Europe is poised, once again, on the brink of recession, and there are fears the Euro could fail. The story is not much better in America, with rising unemployment, a weakening of the credit rating, and uncertainty about what the future might hold. Years of spending too much and saving too little have taken their toll. It’s not just governments that have been doing this. Many ordinary people find themselves crippled by debt, sometimes because they find their circumstances have changed for the worse in these dark times, but sometimes because they have simply been living beyond their means. The desire to buy a bigger house, a newer car, and more extravagant holidays has proven to be too strong. Many blame this desire to have newer and better ‘stuff’ for the looting that afflicted British cities a couple of weeks ago.
Today’s verse, therefore, has enormous relevance for us. Paul writes to the Romans, and to us, telling us not to succumb to this earthly way of living, which is destined to end in disaster. Instead, he tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Focus not on greed, but on God, Paul tells us. Don’t set your eyes on a bigger, better house, but set your eyes on the House of God, for heaven. Don’t long for the latest, newest gadget, but long for the certainty and security of the unchanging Lord. Rather than following the foolishness of the world, follow the wisdom of Christ. Set yourselves apart from the world, Paul says, and dedicate yourself to following Christ.
If we “renew our minds,” our perception of the world will change. Once we align our thinking with God’s by studying his word and praying to him, and seek to live out God’s pattern of living rather than that of the world’s, we will begin to understand what God’s will is, both for us as individuals, for our community, the church, and for the world we live in. We will see that God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect, not evil, corrupt and weak like the world that we live in.
This verse, and the one that preceded it, are without doubt difficult, both to understand and to action. Paul tells us that God demands we hand over our lives to him completely and utterly. Standing out from the world, living differently to those around us, is very hard indeed. But if we did, it wouldn’t just be us that would be transformed, but the whole world.
Let’s pray this verse today:
Father, we pray that you will help us to not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We ask that we will be able to test and approve what your will is—your good, pleasing and perfect will.