A Difficult Choice
For those who have never been to an optometrist you have missed one of the easiest and most difficult questions of life, “Which is better ‘this’ or ‘this’?” It’s easy because you have just two options. At first the options (which view is better) are significantly different and the choice is easy. Then it gets harder and harder so that toward the end, even though there’s a difference between them, they look the same! I’m normally decisive but invariably end up saying, “I don’t know” and I’m not even sure about that!
We like having clear choices. It makes things easier. One of the most difficult ongoing choices for Christians is how to navigate living in this day and age and yet to not be shaped by it. This issue is so important the Apostle Paul gives us this exhortation:
Do not be conformed to this [age], but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
Let’s look at the two options Paul gives us.
Option 1: Be conformed to the age
If we were to paraphrase the first part of this verse, Paul says “stop allowing yourself to be shaped by the age you’re living in.” The Greek word for world is “aion” and is better translated “age”. We live in a time with great pressures on us from society, social groups, culture and traditions that shape us. Each day we are subtly being pressured to conform to this age in values, ideals, and beliefs. The reason this is bad is Galatians 1:4 says the present age is evil.
Our day and age is all about self-gratification, acquiring stuff, wealth, fame, and power. Even more subtle are pressures to be tolerant, open-minded and pluralistic. These pressures affect our attitudes, our way of thinking. At times we adopt the values of this age and don’t even know we are choosing them. Daily we swim in a current of polluted thinking completely different from the principles of the Bible. It’s easy to get so immersed that we forget and are swept along with it.
Option 2: Be Transformed
The second part of the verse gives the alternative, to be transformed. The Greek word here is metamorphao from which we get metamorphosis. What brings about this change is the renewing of our minds.
It’s important to note that Paul doesn’t say we should escape from or abandon the age. Instead we are to be purposeful in renewing our minds. Intentionally immerse yourself each day in the Word by reading and studying it. Regularly spend time with brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for and encourage each other. The goal is to keep ourselves unstained by the world James 1:27 and to make a difference in it for Jesus! Philippians 2:15
How have you learned to renew your mind? What have you learned that helps you from being shaped by the culture? Please leave a question or comment below.