Tuesday 27 June, 2017
12 Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him in the right way. 2 Don’t live the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.
As a young Christian (quite awhile ago now!) these verses had a big impact on me. I committed them to memory and they have become foundational verses in my life as I’ve attempted to live out what it means to offer myself to God as a “living sacrifice” and not be “conformed to the pattern of this world”.
More recently I have been reading these verses in The Message version of the Bible, and it’s brought a fresh perspective to what had become quite familiar to me.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)
The phrase “don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking” is quite challenging! Living life close to God is not like a calm pool where we can sit back and float. We live in a world that is like a current that flows away from God. If we are not actively seeking to draw closer to Him, we will get pulled in the opposite direction whether we are aware of it or not.
It’s a continual challenge to find fresh ways to look at God’s Word and to challenge my thinking. Lately I’ve found it very helpful to listen to preaching podcasts in the car on the way home from work – in particular Timothy Keller, who is a very inspiring and thought-provoking Bible teacher.
Can I encourage you today to join me in looking for new ways to read/hear God’s Word? …”Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out”
Written by Shelly Witt
So good Shelley – I love the Message Version. I love that God isn’t asking for something “extra” from us –
“Take your everyday, ordinary life” – He wants us to live our everyday life – who we are (not who we think we “should” be) for Him, eyes fixed on Him. I can do that, one day at a time – drawing closer to Him, choosing to give myself over to His will, His ways and His plans. Spending time with Him, “marinating” in His presence – allowing it to bring out the “God flavours” in me is a sacrifice that is pleasing to Him. So good!
I had a revelation about this verse recently. Like Shelley, I have had this verse committed to memory for a number of years, but I read it with the 21st century cultural eyes perspective says that we are first thinking things.
I recently read a Christian book that put forward a concept that the way the bible is written, suggests that we are first “desiring beings” and second to that, thinking things. This book has shown me that it is often the hearts desire, not the thinking pattern, that needs to first change when I have a revelation from the Holy Spirit about my own behaviour that needs to change, or when someone approaches me and shows me that what I have done was wrong.
There is a couple of clues in this verse that affirms that the bible’s perspective might be that we are desiring beings first and thinking things second. Verse 1 and verse 2 seem to be disconnected without this perspective- what does worship and sacrifice have to do with renewing the mind? Once I realised that my desires actually lead my thoughts (rather than the other way around) this passage made more sense.
First I have to desire God deeply enough to lay down all my own desires. This is true worship. Only then will I actually be able to have the power to resist conformity to the world and have my mind truly renewed.
Lord, thankyou for showing me the joy and benefit of deeply desiring you.
I will join you in that challenge Shelly! Thanks for your thoughts. Lord help me as well immerse myself in the word & continue to see the world through Gods lenses, not the current worldview.
I love your analogy of the current Shelley! You’ve captured the essence of actively pursuing God so well. Thank you.