Missional Grace: Transformed

Missional Grace:  Transformed

All Tied Up

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 true 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.

–Romans 12:1-2

Lord Jesus, I can’t; You never said I could.

But You can; and always said You would! – Jane Grey

In Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul addresses something of what it means to be a Christian.   We think it means to be all tied up in religious stuff – rituals, regulations, requirements.  But that’s not it as all.  It’s about FREEDOM.  But interestingly enough, this freedom comes through dependence, not independence. 

So much of what our culture values are things related to independence.  We are all a bit like Frank Sinatra.  Our theme song is “I Did it MY Way!” 

The Christian motto, however, shouldn’t be anything like that sung by Sinatra.  It’s not our way, but God’s.  It’s not our strength, resources, knowledge, or ingenuity, it’s all about God.  As an old confession of the church says, “In God we live and move and have our being.” 

Biblical Christianity is not about independence.  In fact the idea of independence was at the core of the biblical story of the Fall.  “You will be like God,” the Tempter said in the garden (see Genesis 3).  If you are LIKE GOD, you no longer need God.  You think you can live independent of God.

Here’s the problem.  We were never met to live independently from God.  We were created to draw our strength from God.  God is a GIVER and we are RECEIVERS.  When we take God out of the picture (that’s called sin) then something happens inside us.  Spiritually speaking, we die.  That’s what it means to become disconnected from God as the source.  So we end up spending our days trying to find something or someone to either fill the void or cover of the despair.  We try to find something to put on ourselves that will give life some sense of meaning and purpose.  It might be alcohol, drugs, or sexual fantasies.  It might be going to church, acting religious, and doing good deeds.  It may look good to bad to the world, but spiritually speaking, it’s still bankrupt because it remains a completely inadequate substitute for God.

When Jesus enters the picture (by faith) we are reconnected to God.  In Christ we have a life source that is sufficient to meet all our needs.  When Jesus animates our life, we begin to be changed from the insider out, rather than the outside in. 

 In Romans 12:1-2, Paul rejects independence and self-effort as a way of living life.  “Present yourselves to Jesus,” he says.  That’s a much better motto that “I Did It My Way.” 

What is the difference between being conformed and transformed?

How might this difference inform our ministry? 

If independence is not a appropriate world for the Christian, what words or phrases might be more appropriate?

Oswald Chambers once wrote, “The phrase we hear so often, ‘Decide for Christ,’ is an emphasis on something Our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him – a very different thing.”

What does it mean to “yield to Christ”? 

How do we step aside daily and let Christ live His life through you? 

What does this look like?

What might a church look like when it realizes its life comes from Jesus?

How can we stimulate this kind of lifestyle through our ministry?


 An Old Scottish Prayer of Benediction

Christ be beside me, Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me, King of my heart,
Christ be within me, Christ be below me,
Christ be above me, never to part.

Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand,
Christ  all around me, shield in the strife.
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting,
Christ in my rising, light of my life.

Christ be in all hearts thinking about me.
Christ be in all tongues telling of me.
Christ be the vision in eyes that see me,
in ears that hear me, Christ ever be.

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