"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 (NLT)
I've been re-reading this verse differently lately. I've seen many posts surrounding this popular verse where Christians are debating "hot-button" topics on social media (often times arguing with & ostracizing people who believe differently than they do). The term "counter cultural" is posed, and debates form on why we should have morals or beliefs that are different than the rest of the world's. Or, as many Christians would say, "you should be in the world, but not of it."
Listen, I couldn't agree more that Christians should live pure lives, But when I read this verse closely and in context, it doesn't really have anything to do with your morals, ideas or your stance as a Christian. If you read farther along in the chapter, you'll see what I mean.
When I read this chapter, the meaning is so much deeper than having conservative views... it's much more intense than that. When God asks us to be counter cultural, He’s asking us to love in such an extravagant way & live so pure in heart that culture can’t possibly understand it. God’s way of living IS completely counter cultural, but not in the way that many might think.
Here's what it says after that:
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in HONORING each other.
(for the sake of room, I'm skipping a few verses... but go back & read them!)
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Wow- there's not much more I can say! This is such a clear picture of what loving people extravagantly looks like! What could speak louder than if we REALLY live like that? We would be blogging more about:
- TRULY loving each other
- Honoring each other (not back biting or competing)
- Responding with kindness to those who mistreat us
- Celebrating people's wins
- Crying with people when they're down
- Becoming friends with "those people" others in your sphere look down on
- Forgiving offenses
- Living honorably
- Giving up on having to "prove" that you're better than others
- Living at PEACE with EVERYONE (not debating with them!)
Living like this has the power to create culture shock in the BEST possible way.
If we could embrace this kind of extreme love (with God's grace), I believe our world could truly change. Not because we have a tough stance on sin, but because we love so extravagantly and live so pure in heart that the world can't possibly understand.
God wants to transform us from the inside out, to change what we think to be closer to what HE thinks. When we think like Him, we can’t help but show that in our interactions with others. In other words, the closer we get to God, the more we'll act like Him... completely refreshing to a world struggling to understand God's heart.
Not only that, but this says that we when we think like God and act like God that's where we discover His will for our lives.
Today, will you join me in the quest to fill our MINDS with God's truth, and our ACTIONS with His love? When we're changed, others will see God more clearly.