You know, I look forward to this time of year, every year. There are many reasons for this anticipation: fond memories, big dinners and celebrations, decorations, the music, beautiful church services and just an overall feeling of good will for and from others.
If I look deeper though, I have to admit that there’s an apprehension for the season as well. I want to celebrate well and not miss one special moment, I want to decorate beautifully and make amazing dinners and give great gifts, but I know what’s coming. It happens every year, there’s so much busyness to everything. I try to create special moments, but it seems there’s no time to treasure them. I want to give so much, but the pressure to spend is intense. It’s more than just the old sayings that have become cliché like “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and “Keep Christ in Christmas” and “It is more blessed to give than to receive” to name a few. While I don’t disagree with those sentiments, it is something else altogether that’s causing the problem. I’ve fallen into the pattern of this world.
I recently posted about a chair that I redid. I called it “Chalk Paint Transformation”. The chair really, really needed a facelift. It had not lived up to it’s full potential decoratively speaking for many years. It’s almost as if the chair was crying out to be renewed. I know, I know, so dramatic, but don’t you ever imagine that an old, worn down, beat up piece of furniture would love another chance to please you? Isn’t that why we redo old things instead of just buying new ones? It’s so satisfying to give new life to something old. Who doesn’t like a good before and after story?
In the same way, our life, our goals, our true purpose gets old and worn down and beat up. The lines become blurred between this life and the next. We really aren’t clear at all about what God’s will is. We need a transformation too! We need to be renewed. How do we do that? Well, after I finished that chair, I kept thinking of a scripture in Romans 12:1-2. It goes like this.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer 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.”
There’s so much we could look at in these two verses, but let’s start with this.
1. What is the pattern of this world?
I look to 1 John 2:15-17 for the answer. John says this:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
In the New Living Translation it puts it this way, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.”
Uhhh. . . . guilty. I’m guilty of falling for what the world offers. I crave so many things. I actually avoid shopping because I end up feeling dissatisfied with what I have and wanting more or better or newer. I’m guilty of feeling pride in what I have or what I’ve done. I’m also guilty of feeling ashamed if I don’t have what I want or embarrassed at a lack of accomplishment. It’s a big trap, one that we can all fall prey to. What to do?
We have to decide that we don’t want to conform. We choose not to.
2. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
As important as refusing to conform is, we must also do the opposite and that is to be transformed by renewing your mind. That is, going back to our original commitment to follow Christ, reminding yourself of why you believe. Because we are in this world, it is easy to become comfortable and allow the world’s ways to push in on us and make us forget our higher calling. We must make clear the line of distinction between what the world is pushing and what Jesus is offering. When we stop and look at God’s mercy to us, isn’t it only reasonable that we do this?
This is not a one-time action, but Paul is saying that it is ongoing, continual. The pattern of this world will always be there to entice us and pull us away from our true purpose and commitment to Jesus Christ and so we must keep going back to Him and the scriptures to remind us of that purpose.
3. What is God’s good pleasing and perfect will?
This is very simple. God wants us to live holy lives that please Him and the only way that will ever happen is if we spend time getting to know our God.
You may be thinking, “Does this mean that I can’t like nice things or make my house look pretty or enjoy getting and receiving Christmas presents?” No, not at all! The Father loves to give good gifts to His children and we love to give good gifts to our children and I love to give good gifts to you! In fact, I’m going to start my Christmas giving right now by giving you this free Scripture Picture PDF to download and print as you like.
I’m also offering it with a white background!
I do “urge” you, as Paul puts it, however, to make a practice of renewing your mind so that you can keep the lines from being blurred and then you will see clearly, again, “what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” So, celebrate this Christmas with all your heart, decorate, love, give, receive, eat, and RENEW.