I read it a hundred times, in several different versions, but never in the version in front of me. I kneel over the page and read it again:
“…I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:1-2, HCSB)
Do not be conformed to this age.
It usually says “to the world” – the term we use for everything in opposition to the kingdom of God. For some reason the use of “this age” struck me with a greater weight. The world has always been fallen; but this age? It comes with a unique set of temptations, a specific kind of appeal, a draw to become part of it… or be left behind.
This age is one of “freedom”; life without boundaries or consequences. This age offers love and community and support for whatever choice becomes “my truth”. In this age, I can be whatever and whoever I want to be.
In this age, I can be god.
Other ages had different gods; the god of manifest destiny, of materialism, of politics; the gods of sexual expression and free love; the gods of “good old days” and a moral facade. But today you can choose from everything that came before. You can bow and bind yourself to it, a living sacrifice to the good life, an American dream, or that ever-elusive freedom.
But in the end, you’re bound to something. In the end… you’re a slave.
Paul warned the Romans not to be conformed to their age: an age of imperialism and emperor worship, sexual festivals and brutal entertainment. His warning remains for us today, in a new age – not the same, but not all that different.
In an age of president-worship or president-hate,
In an age of materialism and American dreams,
In an age of sexualization and sexual slavery,
In an age of emotionally, sexually, and physically brutal entertainment –
Do not be conformed.
In our age, they talk about freedom, but they are not free. They are bound to the things they worship. We are all bound to the place our heart kneels.
We can bend to the appeal of our culture – or we can be transformed by a mind that understands it. We can know that:
Love cannot exist without an objective definition,
The American dream dies with its owner,
Sexuality is not an identity,
and entertainment is no altar for the soul.
We can know the will of a God who loves humanity. We can live the only “good life” that truly exists. It starts by refusing to conform. It ends by living a transformed life in a dying, needy world.
It is accomplished by a heart that kneels to the only God who matters.