Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Romans 12:2
If you’d like a great lesson in stewardship, take a long look at the epistle reading (Romans 12:1-8) for this coming Sunday. In this chapter, Paul makes an excellent case for stewardship of time, talents, and possessions–one’s entire self–and he’s pretty passionate about the idea.
We as readers/hearers of Paul’s message are called to present our selves as living sacrifices to God. Think about that for a minute. This is not a one-time short-term deal; we are involved in an ongoing process of living transformed lives for our Creator God. Instead of a dead carcass burned up on an altar in a moment of devotion, we are exhorted to undergo a metamorphic change and radical realignment of self and all the “stuff” that makes up our lives.
Our choice is to conform to the world’s ways or to be transformed as the Spirit works within us. To conform is to allow ourselves to be molded by external forces, in this case by the standards and trappings of the world. Like a lump of clay we allow ourselves to be fashioned or modeled after someone else’s idea of how life should be.
Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of being pressed and formed like a batch of canned ham isn’t too appealing–even if it is gourmet ham. In our consumer culture, we are encouraged to wear the right clothes from the right stores, to seek bigger, better, and newer possessions in an effort to keep up (i.e. conform) with the latest trends. We supersize everything from hamburgers to houses, and we throw away anything and everything that doesn’t fit with the current season’s look. Great emphasis is placed on fitting the mold and playing the part.
What’s the alternative? Well, according to Paul it’s to be transformed and to grow into a God-centered, God-focused way of being. Transformation involves change, and change can be difficult, but the results may just amaze us. By being transformed, we have the opportunity to be exactly who God created us to be. Our unique gifts and talents are given space to grow and bloom, and we find purpose and meaning in building up the body of Christ.
Worship is no longer a Sunday morning event but rather a life-long, day-in-and-day-out process that finds its expression in word and deed. We praise God not only in song and prayer but in every thing we do and through each decision we make.
Being transformed means we take time to listen, time to discern the will of God. Each Christian is invited to cultivate the discipleship journey only he or she can make. Instead of appearing like rows of canned ham on a shelf, all neat and tidy and blandly alike, disciples of Christ move in a kaleidoscope of vivid colors, textures, and shapes. United in service and mission and called to be good stewards of the many gifts of God, we go out into this broken world to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Canned ham or kaleidoscope? Conformed or transformed? Dead meat or living sacrifice? To me the choice is clear. How about you?
Copyright (c) 2008, The Rev. Sharron Lucas, all rights reserved. Used by permission.