“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
What does the pattern of this world refer to? Perhaps to the timeless, recurring question posed to humankind in Genesis, 3:1 “Did God really say …?” Meaning, are we really subject to an authority other than our own, or can we simply live an autonomous life independent of God. Or going a little deeper, if you are a believer in God, is there more required of you than acquiring a ticket to heaven one day in the distant future. It seems that Romans 12 describes three inseparable realities about God’s will …
- God’s Will: Subjective & Personal
It is quite incredible to consider that the self-existent, un-caused, time-less (science helps us confirm these qualities) Creator of Heaven and earth makes Himself known to humanity. Think for a moment of how you respond to the beauty of a sunrise where it seems there is a plethora of magnificent colour on display for your pure enjoyment. Why is it that you respond to that beauty … is it perhaps an invitation to consider the Intelligent Artist who painted it for you. If you are a believer you know that you have responded to a very personal invitation to know the truth about God through His ultimate revelation, His son Jesus Christ. Because this level of responding to God’s will is so personal, there is very little accountability.
- God’s Will: Objective & General
Romans continues, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Clearly God’s will for all of us takes us into His Community, as the passage clarifies, “each member belongs to all the others.” This is strong covenantal language which is the antithesis of the pattern of the world described above. Since Pentecost it is impossible to know the fullness of God’s will on our own; it is no longer the solitary figure of Moses who ascends the fiery mountain to receive God’s will, but rather the gathered People of God, with tongues of fire on each one. Making our gifts available to our church where we belong is not optional, but central to His will. The level of accountability to us responding to God’s will increases dramatically at this level.
- God’s Will: Qualitative & Measurable
The passage started out by saying we can test and approve God’s will, indicating that it is measureable. As you read the remainder of the chapter of which only a portion is written here, reflect on how you are measuring up to God’s will … “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Notice how accountability is at its highest here, the people around us know how we are doing with these qualitative dynamics of God’s will. They know if we are becoming more loving or distant, more generous or stingy, more faithful or secular, etc.
Prayer: Loving and gracious Father, thank that you have revealed you will to us through your Son Jesus and your Word. Just as kernel of wheat must die to give life, so too help us today to give up our self-centred ways so that your church may be healthy and flourish, in loving service in the world.