2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
The book of Romans is Paul’s letter speaking to early Gentile believers around the capital city of Rome at about 50 CE. Because the Jews, including the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, had been kicked out of Rome, Paul encouraged the Gentiles not to boast of their beliefs. Paul particularly hoped to avoid civic unrest, as religious tensions abounded on all sides. There was more than enough criticism and disagreement to go around. Especially during times of tension, whether in Paul’s day or our own, Paul’s letter to the Romans challenges God’s people to let God transform our minds.
In rereading Romans 12:2, I find Paul’s words and ways for hearing God’s truth to be near and dear to my heart. Oh, to have my mind be transformed, so that God’s will for my life might be known!
Throughout my discernment, I wish I could say that I have always sensed God’s perfect will, but I cannot say that. In times of questioning, I have returned to this scripture with a longing heart.
I am reminded of Paul’s temporary blindness or of Thomas’ doubt. I am reminded of the earliest Christians fighting over the ways and the wonders of their faith and how this resonates even today, right within our own denomination.
I am reminded that being a Christian means that we require continuous discernment in our pathways with God. It means that we must continue to seek God in all the wonders of this world, as well as deep within. We are not conformed to this world. Being a Christian means that we hear differently. It means that we know others differently, too – as a reflection of God’s light and love – even when they (or we!) are most unlovable.
Being a Christian means that although we know challenges, we remain open to God’s transformation. Being a Christian means that we do not follow the pathways of others, but that we remain open to God setting the ways and patterns of our lives. Being a Christian means that we allow God to chart the course of our lives, happily learning to walk in God’s way.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Times in which I have felt the truest connection to God’s will have felt overwhelming and sometimes surprising. Sometimes it has been a moment of oneness with God in prayer. Sometimes it has been in unity with other believers. Perhaps these instances have been surprising because they have often been unplanned connections at God-ly moments in which people of differing faiths, beliefs or ways of life have come together. How have you experienced God’s transformation of your mind? How have you witnessed such transformation in the world?
Prayer: Holy One of God, your ways of mystery and love call us to live lives of transformation. You alone know our truest paths, as you lead us to understand your will. Help us to know your love and grace in the quiet recesses of our minds. Help us to hear your words, to see your ways, and to boldly be the Christians you need us to be. Amen.