Are You Conforming or Transforming?
by Emeka Buffong
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1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2
The first thing that needs to be understood about this passage is what mercies has God bestowed upon us? Have you really thought about it? How merciful has God been to you? There were mornings that I got out of bed and just went about my business without spending any intentional, personal time with God. I would drive on the freeway and come to a near standstill only to discover that further up the expressway there was a serious car accident. A few days ago this happened to me. A car was upside down in the middle of the expressway. The passengers were on the shoulder of the road, all able to walk, but they looked shaken. That could have been me. I was sick for a few days, but God has blessed me back to health. There is still a greater mercy than these – much bigger!
God offers salvation freely to this world, but salvation was by no means free. Jesus Christ died in our place. Mankind was guilty of disobedience. The first Adam made all of us guilty and worthy of death. The second Adam made a way for us to obtain life eternal by accepting God’s forgiveness and surrendering to Him.
God constantly gives us mercy to show us that He loves us. He wants us to serve Him out of love for Him. When we understand better God’s love for us we will want to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. I used to think that God was unfair and mean, until I started to see the love of God throughout Scripture. In creation God made everything that we needed for life before He made Adam. When Adam and Eve saw that they were naked and became ashamed after their sin, God clothed Adam and Eve. In spite of mankind’s rebellion God constantly pleaded with mankind. In the wilderness God provided a cloud that protected the Children of Israel from the heat of the sun in the day and a pillar of fire that provided them heat and light in the desert at night. The 10 commandments were provided for mankind’s best interest.
God loves. He loves so greatly that He allows us to choose whether or not we want to serve Him on our own. Real love has the freedom to choose. It looks out for the best interest of the object of its love.
Think about God’s mercies that He has given freely to you.
That is the backdrop for us to proceed to verse two’s charge to not be conformed to this world. This Greek word for conform, transliterated: syschēmatizō means: to form according to a pattern or mold (BDAG 979). This verb in the Greek can be interpreted either in the “middle” or “passive” voice. The significance of either the middle or passive voice being used here is that we are to guard against causing ourselves to be conformed to this world or allowing this world to conform our thinking. I chose to go with the passive voice here.
The imperative mood means that this is a command – it is not casual conversation.
Our thinking and character should not be like that of the world. Scripture does not leave us to figure out on our own how to avoid this danger of being conformed to this world. We are told to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The voice of this word for transformed is passive; meaning that we must allow God to renew our minds by spending time in God’s Word.
We try so hard sometimes to find a middle ground where there are no middle positions when it comes to serving God. Half service to God is not serving God. Scripture is clear that we are not saved by works, but when God does an inward work in our lives it is evident by an outward change.
God wants us to show with our lives our faith in Him. Sure talking about God is great and important, but our lives speak so much louder than any words that we could use.
Do you see yourself conforming to this world or being transformed more and more into the character of Christ? The truth is that we can only be on one side or the other. There is no middle ground in this situation.
Think about where you are. Seriously look at this for yourself. We are bombarded with so many things in this world. So many ideas that are against Scripture are heralded over and over that we sometimes accept some of them, but we must remember that God calls us to prove all things and holdfast that which is good(1 Thessalonians 5:21). We have to use God’s Word as the litmus test to screen what is wrong and what is right / what is good and what is best.
Let’s prayerfully ask God to transform our minds, so that our thinking is in harmony with what pleases Him. I write this in humility not as one who has arrived, but as a fellow pilgrim on this journey. God is still working on me. I am confident that God will complete what He has started.
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