Personally, I’m not into robots.
But apparently, many people are. Hollywood has been very successful with the Transformers movie series, and children for decades have been enjoying the transfiguring action figures. Why all the hype? I suppose people are intrigued by the concept of an ordinary object converting into something entirely other. And that’s where my own interest has been piqued.
For months I’ve been chewing on this portion of Romans 12:2, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I’ve read and re-read the words. “Be transformed.” TRANSFORMED? As in, changed into something completely different?
The original word, metamorphoō, means to change, transfigure, transform. This is where we get the word metamorphose (think caterpillars and butterflies). So we’re not just talking about a new and improved version of the same thing (like a car that got waxed is now shiny); we’re talking about a complete transformation (like a sports car that turns into a heroic robot).
For those of us who are aware of our deep need of transformation, this notion is quite appealing. We know that our natural tendency is to be disobedient, discontent, and disappointed with life. We long for the abundant life – a life marked by joyful freedom in Christ. But how do we get there? …I’m glad you asked.
In the New Testament, this word “transform” is only used in the passive tense: to be transfigured, transformed. So apparently, transformation is not something that we must attempt to do. It’s not about trying harder, striving to be better. Transformation is something that is done for us; it’s something we receive.
But how? Romans 12:2 continues, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
There it is…mind renewal. At first glance, that phrase could sound new-agey or secular at best. Mind renewal? Is this the power of positive thinking? Some kind of hypnotic experience? No, this word “renew” means to “renovate.” It’s a “renewing or a renovation which makes a person different than in the past.” Ah yes, transformation.
So here we have a cause and effect relationship between the two. Mind renewal (cause) and life transformation (effect). Where do I sign up?!
For years and years I wanted to be different, to be better. I tried so hard to transform myself. Maybe if I stop doing (insert sinful habit here) , I would change. So I wrestled with my flesh and strived to put carnal tendencies behind me. Or maybe if I started doing (insert religious activity here) , I would change. So I worked hard to do and say and be everything I thought I was supposed to.
But I wasn’t transformed; I was a shiny, waxed car. But still a car.
In order to truly understand mind renewal and transformation, we have to read the former part of Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
What are the patterns of this world? Self-reliance. Comparison and competition. Materialism. Ingratitude. Self-indulgence. Pessimism. Worry and anxiety. Judgment. Unforgiveness. Selfishness. Fearfulness. Worldly wisdom. Prideful independence. Self-hatred. Godlessness. To name a few.
Every single one of the worldly patterns above originates in the mind. You may have heard the famous quote, “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. ” What you birth in your mind is the life you will nurse. Interestingly, a synonym for the Greek word “renew” is paliggenesía, which means rebirth.
So if we’re going to renew our minds by rejecting these patterns, we will have to birth something new.
I don’t have enough time or space in this blog to dig into each individual pattern mentioned above, but I’m working on a sequel! In the meantime, I want to challenge you to consider the patterns to which you’ve become conformed. What do you dwell on? (Your difficult circumstances, fears, and worries, or the promises of God’s Word?) What do you tell yourself? (The lies that the world defines you by, or truth of who you are in Christ?) Identify who is speaking in the ongoing dialogue of your mind. Is it you? The enemy? God? Now ask yourself, “Whose voice can I trust?”
Only One will ALWAYS tell you the Truth. Only One can empower you to birth something new in your mind. Only One can truly transform your life.