Thursday, April 29, 2010

R12: Chapters 8 & 9 follow-up, It's All About Me!

I have to follow up on the last two chapters. Each time I’ve sat down to start punching away on my keyboard, my train of thought finds a point and steamrolls me through to the end of the post. And then I realize I never got around to some of the points I wanted to make in the first place. I spent a lot of time on Chapter 8, defining the temptations of the World, and by the length of my post it is no surprise this is one of the longest chapters in the book. Chapter 9 follows with the “hows” to combat the temptations in Chapter 8. And I spent most of this morning’s post instead talking about the “whys”.

Something I inadvertently left out of both of these however is one major roadblock we all have to face in order to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] minds.” I mentioned before that both commands here are passive. So while we’re commanded to do this, we’re not expected to do it on our own. So the obstacle to overcoming the world and transforming as God intends is ourselves. This is too important a point to be left out.

Chip paints this perfectly in Chapter 8:

I am personally convinced that much of our worldliness is a total misunderstanding of the real issue. There are far too many people who are stuck in cycles of sin that they repeat over and over again because they think the issue is their actual behavior. Behavior is almost always only the symptom. The real issue is far deeper...

I'm amazed that even in our sin we figure a way to make it "about us." My sin, my problem, my behavior, my addiction, my struggles, my difficult background, are all words and phrases that focus on us.
This comes up again in Chapter 9 as we’re reminded that we are not the ones who do the transforming, we are the ones transformed. And this fact, that sounds so simple, is why religion so often fails. We have to remember that religion is a man-made institution designed to draw us close to God. It is man-made however, meaning it is imperfect. And over time traditions set in, cliques form, apathy and ambivalence creep in, and generation after generation see splits, revivals, restorations and the cycle begins anew. Religion does not save. Church programs do not heal. Our fellowship should not be our object of worship. These belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.

So the World tricks us into thinking it’s all about ourselves and religion buys into it. My sin drags me down. But if I do this and I do not do that I will overcome. Our spirituality becomes a checklist, our relationship with God becomes about rules, and we forget the grace of God that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) (Remember that Romans 12 begins with “Therefore…” after following chapters 1-11) This is not to excuse sin. This is not to advocate some private, personal ascension to holiness independent from the Church. This is to plead that we step out of the way and let God do what he wants to do in our lives. When we do, repentance becomes easier, resistance to temptations becomes natural, and holiness becomes who we are.

Think: What action is commanded in Romans 12:2 that results in transformation? How does this action differ from ways you have attempted to be more Christ-like?
Reflect: How would you characterize your mental and spiritual diet? What correlation might there be between areas where you "struggle" and what is going into your mind?
Understand: What is your biggest barrier to renewing your mind? Don't know where to begin? Don't have a plan? Don't have the discipline?
Surrender: Ask God to create an appetite in your heart for Him and His Word. Ask Him to show you where to read in the Bible.
Take Action: Set your alarm clock back twenty minutes each day for two weeks and meet with God to start your day.
Motivation: Listen to "Peace and Power of a Prioritized Life" which shows you a simple but powerful way to read adn hear God's voice. [Found by clicking the R12 button to the right and going to the Free Resources under the "Separate" tab]
Encourage Someone: Ask someone to make the two-week commitment with you to meet with God first daily. Text each other at noon in order to hold each other accountable.

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