Friday, August 3, 2012

Letting Transformation Happen - Or, how I learned to look at Romans 12:2 in a new way

As a person who sometimes writes words, I try to pay attention to grammar. I mean, sometimes I try to pay attention to grammar. Other times, I toss formality to the side and say to heck with it.

Thanks to great English teachers, though, I gained a keen awareness of overusing passive tense. See how I tried to avoid the landmine there? "I am keenly aware" to "I gained a keen awareness", aaaand sidestep...

But sometimes we need to use passive tense. Sometimes it's the best way to say what needs to be said. Like the two passives in that last sentence. And now two sentence fragments which would probably have passives. Did anyone else start counting? Okay, I'll stop doing that now.

As I prepared my discussion notes for a youth group meeting, I learned how Paul intentionally worded Romans 12:2. "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."

In Enjoying God's Grace, Terry Virgo highlights the phrase "be transformed" and says this comes through God's work in us. At various stages of my life, I've taken this verse to mean I had to try very hard to renew my mind by changing my behavior. Without exception, this led to disappointment. My behavior couldn't bring me salvation, so how could I expect it to sanctify me as well?

I had one of the youths read Proverbs 23:6-7 and we talked about how our thoughts reflect what's in our heart. And if I've learned anything about grace, I've learned I need to let God change my heart.

So how do we let God transform our hearts and our minds? One youth said we have to have a humble and responsive attitude to whatever God might put on our hearts. In other words, don't resist the changes He wants to do in you.

Anyone else out there try really hard to change themselves? Have you ever experienced God changing your heart and mind outside of your own effort?

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