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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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.A lot has been going on lately, as God has been teaching me to let go of many of the things that drive me -- particularly, my career. I haven't figured everything out yet, but I'm slowly loosening my grasp on a lot of what I've been clinging to as I pursue a career in media -- things that have often taken a place higher than God's. There have been a lot of ways that this has been happening (circumstances, thoughts and conversations) -- too many to mention -- but it's brought up some fresh insight into this verse...
"Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." That says a lot about what I'm going through -- giving up things I've held to (and not necessarily bad things) that may be getting in the way of what life is actually about. Trading things that I've determined are my purpose, for what God says my purpose is.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world." What is the pattern of this world? An good insight into this came from a bible study I attended last night. Judah Smith spoke on John 5:1-15, the story of a man who had an infirmity for 38 years and sat at this pool where, every so often the waters were stirred, and the first one who got in was healed. This particular man could never get in because he didn't have someone to help him -- someone else always beat him to it.
Judah described the scene as chaos, as this was where sheep went in and out of the city, as well as so many disabled people all trying to get in this pool at the same time. This man had existed here for 38 years, living in chaos because that's the only way he know how to live. Judah pointed out that this is how our lives are on this earth, and especially in my industry: it's cutthroat, where you rely on connections, networking, talent, dedication, hard work, etc. to realize your dreams. Not that those things are all bad, but I find myself discouraged entering this world, because I might not have what it takes; someone else is probably faster or more talented. I probably feel similar to the lame man who couldn't get his "break" because he didn't know the right people.
Then Jesus shows up, who asks him an obvious question, "Do you want to be made well?" The nameless man talks about the times he almost got in, but couldn't quite make it. Then Jesus tells him to get up. He does, and it works!
Jesus showed up with a new way of doing things, contrary to the way of the world; and it's a better way, a path that relies on God's grace and mercy rather than my own cunning or effort.
Back to Romans...don't conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to determine God's will (paraphrasing). As I learn to say, "God, you can have my goals and my life," I can't help but come up with the question afterwards, "but then what am I supposed to do?" This verse is the key...
In the process of letting go (offering myself as a sacrifice) and not doing things the way the world does, I will be able to determine God's will. It's as if I can't even know God's will without letting go of my own. So when I can do that, I will be able to learn what God, the One who created me to do something, wants me to do.
That's powerful stuff, and a much needed word as my life transitions.