Three winters ago my Bible reading program was reading the NT and marking all the verses I did not like. Ones that were burdensome. Took the fun out of life. Ones that made the Christian life one of hard work but never quite enough. They all seemed contrary to the idea of having “life and having it abundantly.” But I trudged on.
It was easy to put Romans 12:2 on the list, “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” I heard it telling me I was responsible for my transformation. More Scripture memory, more Bible study, more books, more church – more, more, more. Time to read a novel? Nope. Go have fun? No way…I need to keep renewing my mind.
And then breakfast with Jerry and a discussion of Romans 12:2. He gently shared two insights that changed everything.
- First Jerry mentioned that “be transformed” was an imperative. I knew that. That’s what made me work so hard. I had to transform my mind.
- But then he made a second observation – it was a passive imperative. It is something that I was to let happen to me.
The lights went on – and the burden disappeared. The word mind refers to the non-physical aspect of us, just like the word heart. Can I transform that? NO! It is something that God does to me…hence the passive tense.
Do I still work hard at the spiritual disciplines? You bet. But the reason is totally different. No longer do I do them to transform myself into someone that is pleasing to God. Now I practice the disciplines to discover and experience the transformation God has already done in me! When I do these things I am reminded that everything between God and me is permanently fixed. Becoming acceptable to God is no longer dependent upon my hard work. It is by faith alone and by grace alone.
“It is our new creation that has given us our new mind; and it is our new mind which understands our new creation and its implications.”
And you know what – the joy that comes in understanding and experiencing the implications of my new creation helps me understand and experience not only newness of life, but life abundant!
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