[blockquote cite=”Kate B. Wilkinson, 1925″]May the mind of Christ, my Savior, live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling all I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph only through His power.
[dropcap3]C[/dropcap3]hristianity was born into the pagan Roman Empire, where believers in Jesus Christ were tempted to drift along with its culture. The apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Rome, the capital city of the empire, and encouraged them, in view of God’s mercy to those chosen by grace, to present their bodies as a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). We also have the privilege of giving ourselves to the one who gave himself for us.
Like the Roman Empire, our culture threatens those who demonstrate such radical dedication. Pressure is strong to build cultural idols and worship them rather than the God of our salvation. We tend to be “conformed to this world,” but God’s design is that we “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). This renovation process begins at our conversion by “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). We must continue the Spirit’s work by remembering three dimensions of God’s means for transforming our lives.
Renewal is Mind Directed
Everything begins with our minds. Augustine said, “Everything that is believed is believed after being preceded by thought. . . . Not everyone who thinks believes, since many think in order not to believe; but everyone who believes thinks, thinks in believing and believes in thinking.”1 Philadelphia Biblical University exists in order to educate students to become “biblically-minded” Christians, a goal envisioned for every Christian: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mat. 22:37). Jesus’ words remind us that in order to love God properly we must use our minds. Reading, questioning, listening, discussing and meditating rearranges our thoughts and adds new dimensions to our mental categories of God’s truth.
Renewal is Scripture Centered
Jesus prayed for our renewal by God’s word: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). The heart of spiritual renewal is found in communion with our Lord in his word. Reading it, understanding it, and meditating on it carries us into a renewing relationship with our Lord. In addition to the Scriptures, we can think deeply about God’s glory in his creation, since “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). Learning about God’s universe, from nature to science to the arts, reminds us that all truth is God’s truth.
Renewal is Life Transforming
When we renew our minds by disciplined thinking about his word and his world, God transforms our being. The progressive change of our inner person is a foretaste of what Jesus will complete when he returns to “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phi. 3:21). The caterpillar spins its cocoon and mysteriously emerges as a butterfly. This process is known as “metamorphosis,” the same Greek word translated “transformed” in Romans 12:2. As we renew our minds by “beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed from one degree of glory to another” (2Co. 3:18).
Christians made a difference in the Roman Empire, spreading a new way of thinking about God, themselves, and life itself. God calls us, the church of the twenty-first century, to embrace the passion of thinking his thoughts rather than drifting along in our culture, consumed with idols of our own making. Only then will sinful patterns be broken, selfish motives be exposed, and Christ exalting passions be treasured.
1Quoted in Robert L. Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003).