Shaped By God
“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).
In the passage above, we are called by the writer to submit both our bodies and our minds to the Lordship of Christ. So much so that that submission is identified as “acceptable worship.” To accomplish this, we are exhorted not to be conformed to this world, its ways, its thinking, its philosophies.
There is an excellent modern translation of the New Testament that is seldom mentioned today, but in my mind ranks among the best. It is The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips. One of his masterpieces of translation is Romans 12:1-2, “With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable to Him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
I don’t know about you but when I hear the words, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its own mold” I have some very real mental images that come to the forefront of my mind.
When I was growing up, my mother often served Jell-O to our family. Often the Jell-O had been cooled and shaped in a mold. Many of you have probably made ceramic figurines that came from a mold. Today, many children play with Play Dough, pressing it into various shaped molds.
The writer of this verse had two very distinct molds in mind. His first exhortation is that we do not let the world shape us into its mold. Then he says that we need to let God re-mold our minds according to His likeness and ways. What we are being told in these verses is that when we became Christians our worldly lives were melted down by God to be entirely reshaped by His grace and remolded according to His Word. The result? We are being changed, from glory to glory, into the image of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).
The world has an idea of how you ought to think and act and live. The writer of Proverbs says that that way is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12). But if we will let God and His Word remold and reshape our lives, we will then walk in His abundance, His joy, and His love, reflecting the beauty of Jesus.