A Transforming Resolution
A new year is here.
Even greater, a new decade.
I don’t know about you, but for me there are things in the last year and decade that are a part of my past I wish could be undone.
Things I’ve said, things I’ve done. Most done out of selfish immaturity. Some to myself, some to others.
My guess is, you can relate at some level.
The truth is, we’ve all made mistakes. There are things in our past that we would rather never remember. The old saying “ignorance is bliss” comes to mind.
The beautiful thing about a new year is it’s signifying of a new start. Like the refreshing encouragement new blooms bring in spring. And every year people around the world come up with their list of great improvements and goals they want to accomplish. Some, by the next New Year, are successful. Others like me, often forget what those goals were because they never wrote them down.
I want this year to be different.
For me. For you.
This New Years I have a different mindset towards resolution setting. I want this next year to be one of deeper growth in my faith and trust in Jesus. I want your faith and trust in Jesus to grow deeper, the impact we have in the community around us greater for Jesus. And I believe Paul gives us an incredible insight into how we can take this from a desire to something that is fruitful.
Paul gives us words in Romans that honestly, I have read over and over again. I’ve spent time studying this small passage over the years, but it has never come to life as it does for me now.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2 ESV
Paul presents us a plan, that if followed will open floodgates of growth. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to live sacrificially as an act of worship. The actual idea stems from the Greek θύω (thuō), literally meaning to kill or slay. It is from this word that Paul uses θυσία (thusia), rendered in English as Sacrifice. Paul begins by instructing us to live sacrificially in that we die to ourselves. A powerful picture he paints of what holy living, following Jesus, looks like.
Not only does he tell us to live sacrificially of ourselves in pursuit of Jesus, this idea of dying to oneself, he breaks down how.
Transformation is essential. Paul contrasts this idea to conformity with the world and its ways. The Greek he uses, συσχηματίζω (suschēmatizō), means to fashion alike. Oxford defines it as behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards. In a world full of pressures to conform to the sinful ways of the culture around us, we are called to be transformed.
We are called to be changed.
The Greek word Paul uses here for our English transformed is μεταμορφόω (mĕtamŏrphŏō), which literally means to change, transfigure, transform. It presents the idea that the old is done away with and replaced by something new. By dying to ourself we become a new creation in and through Christ!
But this transformation is dependent on something. Just as we cannot live a sacrificial life in pursuit of Jesus apart from transformation, something else must take place within us for this transformation to happen. Paul tells us there must be a “renewal of your mind”. He uses the Greek ἀνακαίνωσις (anakainōsis) where we read renewal. The meaning for the Greek is renovation. Think of it as a house in need of being renovated. As it ages, walls need to be replaced, the plumbing and electrical might need upgraded. Maybe a new floor plan needs to be implemented, moving rooms around and possibly effecting the overall structure. Like a house in need of renovation, our mind needs to experience renewal. I love what W. Jay Wood says regarding this passage in his book Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous: “God cares about how you think, not just what you think.”
What we think, and how we think has a direct impact on how we act. If there is not renewal of our mind, a restructuring in how and what we think, there cannot be transformation. And without transformation in our lives, we will never live sacrificially in greater pursuit of Jesus. Paul presents us a plan of action that builds on itself, resulting in a life that is holy and pleasing to God.
It’s a beautiful thing. Like a caterpillar that goes through the process of metamorphoses and comes out transformed into a butterfly. You and I, as followers of Jesus, are called to be living sacrifices each day.
As we venture into a new year, a new decade, will you make your goal to grow deeper in your faith? Will you make it a point to be transformed by actively letting your mind be renewed? Will you live your life each day willingly dying to yourself?
Will you be a caterpillar, emerging emerging from the process of metamorphoses as a butterfly?
Will you be holy and acceptable to God?