Change is Hard
Romans 12:1,2 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…
So many times, I have read this passage and begged God to transform my mind. I have implored that He change my desires, forcing me to like broccoli instead of donuts. I have asked that He would make it natural for me to want to serve him instead of constantly desiring to pursue self. Nothing. My efforts at transformation have come up empty. To call them efforts though, would be to miss Paul’s point here, I think.
In retrospect, I can see that though I desired transformation, I remained unwilling to do anything. I wanted God to first change my desires and then my behavior would naturally follow, right? God, if you would just make me hate donuts, drugs and pride, then I will be good. I promise. OK, go.
I am sure there are those in this world who can do this. There are those for whom right knowledge translates to right behavior. I have read books by such people who insist that if I know right, I will do right. This has never been my experience. I have engaged in the worst behavior of my life not out of ignorance, but out of preference. I knew what was right, I just wanted wrong more.
So how do we change? Paul here, revealed the how. We are to do whatever it takes to offer ourselves as sacrifices, not in death, but in life. We are to consciously choose to take every day and give it to God, insisting that we continually abandon self and follow him. We need to do this, even when we do not feel like it.
I have so often sat and prayed for God’s will, but then spent hours a day watching TV or in some other pursuit of self. God’s will has always been available to me though. I know that I am to abandon self and pursue him. I know that I must read, pray, and meditate. I must love God and neighbor. This is not mysterious and it is not optional if I want my mind to be transformed.
I do not have it all figured out, but I will testify that taking the time every morning to read, pray and meditate, has radically transformed my mind. In the idle moments of the day, I now try to take the day’s passage and meditate on it instead of spending the energy of my imagination on the pursuit of self. This has had a profound transformational effect on my mind and desires.
Previously, I wanted God to change my mind so my behavior would change. The reality though is that God often does not move until I obey. He did not work in me until I was willing to follow him. It is in drawing near to God that He draws near to me. My distance from God is always my fault.
Some will insist that I am trying to earn God with my behavior. God has already done the work Scott. You don’t need to earn his grace. It true, that because of Jesus sacrifice, I have this perfect spirit life in which I have peace, joy and transformation. I only experience this life though, as much as I choose to live in it. If I spend all my energies in the pursuit of self, I cannot complain that I am not experiencing joy, freedom and transformation. I only get to know the spirit life as much as I choose to participate in it. Daily, it is mine to abandon self and follow God as a living sacrifice.