Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. Rom 12:2
OK, I know it’s wordy. It’s the Amplified Bible. But at times it brings out some fresh perspectives – just like here.
At the times of Christ, the religious people, namely the Pharisees, were fashioned after external, superficial customs. Maybe it is not only about behaving as the world does. The word used for world is aion, and it literally means age.
So let me rephrase this, and let’s translate nous more accurately as well:
Do not expect things to happen out there and live accordingly, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your thinking, judging, i.e. thoughts, feelings, purposes, desires.
It is not just our thinking, our reasoning that has to change. It’s all of our soul. Reason, emotions, and will. By doing what?
By not looking out there and expect things to “just happen”. It does not matter whether that means circumstances to change or prophecies to be fulfilled, whether it talks of behavioral patterns or waiting for others to move on our behalf.
What would that mean for us today?
I just name a few patterns:
For one, acting like little babies. For them, it’s all about what’s in it for them. Others have to cater them, provide for them, clean them, you get the picture. If something goes wrong, it’s always the others fault. In Switzerland a few years back there was a sound track saying: Fritzli (a man’s name) was alright, only his environment was bad. He blamed (and killed – that is were the song gets freakish) everybody from the cat to his mother, and everybody told him it was the society’s fault. Sound familiar?
Another example: looking to newspapers and television to know what God is up to, and then basing one’s re-actions on that. Or rather non-action, as most the time we only complain about how the times are getting worse, secretly rejoicing because we expect all this to happen before Christ comes back. But acting? Why? It will all be over soon anyways. Fashioned after external, superficial customs.
At the same time we go to church and ask ourselves what we are here for. What is my calling? God, use me! Whereas this verse gives us the answer: change your thinking. Think as God does, and you will know your purpose, your calling, his desires. Actually, his desires will become yours.
This really means to repent. It is a 180° change of direction. Instead from the outside in, we are looking at things from the inside out. Instead of the world leaving an imprint on us, we leave one on the world. Instead of having an indent, caused by the circumstances of life, we have an identity, in Christ. Instead of letting life happen, we live.
Jesus came to revive the garden within you, so the river of life can flow again from his throne through you into the world. But we rather have the ocean – which stands for the masses of unbelievers – with its waves – a picture for doubt according to James – flow into us. The result: brackish water. Not like the river of Ezekiel that brought life wherever it came.
So how is this done?
Spend time with God. Just like it is with your spouse – only in time spent together you will get to know her or him intimately and thoroughly. Therefore, pray, read God’s word, have communion with others on the same path. And then:
Listen, understand, act.
Ready to change your thinking?