Christianity 201

April 29, 2016

Not Conformed, But Transformed

For today’s thoughts, we’re showcasing a devotional site that is new to us, and in particular two word studies based on the same passage from Today’s Word with Skip Moen. For those of you who like to dig a little bit deeper, this is a webpage you should plan on returning to often. Clicking this link will take you the page, which shows the reading for that day, but you use a calendar to navigate to other days’ devotionals.

“Today’s Word” with Skip Moen

“and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Conformed – The word Paul uses for “conformed” is suschematizesthe. A mouthful, for sure. But if we break it down, you will see parts you already know. Sus comes from sum. Of course, it means “with” in the sense of added together. Schematizo is the root verb. We get “schematic” a plan or diagram. Because it’s a verb, the sense is “to make according to a design” or “to fashion like a pattern”. So, we have the meaning. Now we need the tense. That will tell us the “who” and the “when” of this verb. It is plural (all of you), imperative (a command), present tense (an action to do right now), passive (do it to yourself). So, “do not be conformed” is really “every moment, don’t make yourself into a person that is patterned after the world”.

My wife has been sewing since she was a child. In her sewing room are many envelopes with patterns in them. When she uses a skirt pattern, even if the material is different in each skirt, the design follows the same pattern. This is what Paul has in mind. He is telling us that the world has a pattern. Even if we make things look different on the outside, that inner pattern will dictate the shape of our lives. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of that design because it has actually formed the way that we think. Let me give you some examples: Do you place a higher value on gaining knowledge than you do on submitting to God’s wisdom?

Perhaps you will say, “Oh, no. I don’t do that. I want to serve God’s purposes”. But see how you respond to these implications. How often have you shortened your time studying God’s word so that you could get to a training class for work? How many times have you missed a Bible study because you got too busy with ordinary things? Do you tell your children that the way to success is by getting a college degree? How much emphasis do you and your family put on understanding God’s precise purpose for your daily life or do you “assume” it while you rush to get to work or school?

Do you measure achievements according to the standards of your career instead of according to God’s revelation?

I have many college degrees. They are displayed on my wall. Do you think that they make me a better person? When you meet someone, do you judge him or her by their accomplishments before you know if they have submitted their lives to God? If someone asks you what you do, is God’s purpose part of your answer? How many times have you turned down a business deal that looked good just because the other party was not a believer and had motivations that were not in the Christian pattern? How often have you measured your success by the number of converts, the size of the choir, the people in the pews or the budget for the building?

Patterns run deep.

Transformed – In Greek, metamorphousthe. Another big word, but this one we have in English. Metamorphosis. To change from one thing into another. Caterpillar to butterfly. The two words that make up this concept literally mean to move from one place to another. It is the same word that is used to describe Jesus when he was transfigured from the earthly human form into the divine form of glory in that brief moment on the mountain. Much better than caterpillar to butterfly. From this earthly body to a shape fit for glory.

Isn’t that what we want? We want to leave behind this world of toil and care. We want to quit the tears, sorrows and struggles. We want the shape of glory, the everlasting peace of God’s presence. To be really free. Just writing these words brings tears to my eyes. There is something in my soul that longs to be released, to be reunited with my Creator.

This word is so much more than the natural process of becoming a butterfly. It is a divine process of the Holy Spirit as I am transformed into the image of Christ. There is nothing on earth like it.

And the most amazing thing is that it is happening right now. We don’t to wait until we die to get it started. It won’t be finished until death, but we are already being moved from one place to another right now. The trials of this world don’t disturb me as much as they used to. The sorrows find comfort. The pains find fellowship. My purpose looks forward. God is changing the shape of my pattern.

But there is something important hidden in the verb tense. Paul is saying we have to do something. We don’t just sit back and let God work. This is active engagement. Transformation requires participation. Look for the new pattern. Let it sink in. Then, just do it!

“Today’s Word” devotional, from Skip Moen . © 2008 is used by permission. All rights reserved.