Dare to Be Different—A Commentary on Romans 12:1-2
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Are you familiar with the toys called “Transformers?” Each one starts out looking like one thing, then various parts move so the whole thing becomes something totally different. Some parts stay the same; others change to take on the appearance of something with a different purpose—a powerful robot. But, it’s not rightly named. The toy gets transformed by me—not itself. It should be called “transformable.” This toy makes a good visual of how, in real life, I am not a transformer either, but one who is transformable in the hands of the living Christ and His transforming power. And, while this toy won’t resist me because it has no will of its own, we can resist our transformer out of fear of the unfamiliar, because of stubbornness—not being convinced that we need transforming, or out of ignorance—not knowing it’s available to us. So, how do we cooperate with our transformer? By faith, like everything else in our Christian life, we can Dare to Be Different—knowing it’s for our own good. To dare means to “have the courage to do something.” The Holy Spirit (through Paul) tells us how we can be transformable in Romans 12:1-2.
“Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Our God is saying here, “Dare to be different. It’s for your own good, it’s My will, and it pleases Me.” God’s almighty powerful Spirit is living inside of us. We can dare to be different. To do so, we must do three things: 1) dare to evaluate, 2) dare to submit, and 3) dare to expect results.
Dare to Evaluate
Romans 12:2 begins by telling us to not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world. I learn 3 things from this:
- For every child of God, conforming to the world’s pattern is not a good thing because we are told to stop it.
- We have a choice to not conform to this world.
- Somehow, we need to figure out if we are conforming to this world or not. That requires evaluation.
So, if you want to dare to be different, you’ve first got to “Dare to Evaluate.” Where are you being pulled by the world’s influence and ideas? What advantages or disadvantages have shaped your thinking and your character? What is God showing you about yourself as you read His Word? After evaluating all of this, then you “dare to submit” it to the living Christ and ask Him to transform you into what He desires for you. Submit to be transformed.
Dare to Submit
That’s what Romans 12:2 says. Be transformed. The underlying Greek word is our English word metamorphosis. Think of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly—a total change from the inside out. That caterpillar found its spot, spun a chrysalis, and submitted itself to the transformation, trusting in its Creator.
What does it mean to trust ourselves to Jesus’ transforming power? What is our part? I think there are 2 aspects to this.
#1. Recognize that all of you belongs to God anyway, and “Daring to Submit” to Him is for your good and pleases God.
We get this from Romans 12:1. Presenting our bodies means to present the totality of our life and activities to Him. Our bodies live out who we are inside. Paul says this is our reasonable act of worship. What he means is “Duh! It’s the only logical response considering all that God has done for you!” This is that teachable moment when you decide to be more than just a believer. It is saying to Jesus, “I choose to be your disciple from this point forward.“ That doesn’t mean you’ll always be 100% a disciple every day, but you have made a life decision to pursue this. Maybe you have been a believer since childhood but reached a point in your life when you decided to be more than a believer (that was my experience). Or, perhaps you didn’t believe in Christ until adulthood and jumped right into being His disciple.
#2. Renew your mind from the world’s way of thinking, feeling & doing to God’s way of thinking, feeling & doing.
We get this from Romans 12:2. Renewing our minds means pushing the conforming influences away and replacing them with spiritual input from God’s Word, prayer, and friendship with Christians who love God. What about you? Have you recognized the conforming influences on you yet? Are you putting them away from you? Are you replacing them with God’s Word, time in prayer, and friendships with Christians who love God?
The conforming and transforming are not one-time action verbs but represent continuous action. So, we should read this as, “Keep on not conforming” and “Keep on being transformed.” Then, trust God to do His part to transform us into the likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I read something recently by George Barna, the Christian survey guy.
“People pay attention to what they deem important. And many Christians invest more of their mental energy in cultural literacy than in biblical literacy.” (George Barna, Dallas Morning News, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006.)
Now, we need to know our world to have an influence on it. But, the balance of effort is to be on the biblical side. When has the latest textbook on political thought transformed anyone’s life? Or, 10 best tummy-flattening exercises? So, I ask the question of you as I have already done for me, “Where is your mental energy going?”
This leads me to the last dare, also from Romans 12:2. Expect results
“… that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
That tells me to …
Dare to Expect Results
What kind of results can you expect? Some changes take place instantly—including those 30+ things that are true about your new identity. Inside out transformation usually means two things happen.
#1. Priority gets changed
I like the way the Bible Knowledge Commentary puts this…
“As a Christian is transformed in (her) mind and is made more like Christ, (s)he comes to approve and desire God’s will, not (her) own will for her life. Then (s)he discovers that God’s will is what is good for her, and that it pleases God, and is complete in every way. It is all (s)he needs.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament,page 488)
This requires a change in priority.
#2. Character gets changed
Jesus’ transforming power enhances or redirects the positive traits and replaces the negative ones with His own character. Think about how God transformed the life of the Apostle Paul. Over the years, God replaced a heart that lacks compassion with one that loved people deeply including Gentiles whom he accepted as family (transformed from prejudice before Christ). God took his obsession to destroy all the Christians (before Christ), and redirected it to a restlessness to win as many as possible. He remained sold out to his cause and a very courageous traveler. Instead of being a willing participant in murder (before Christ), at least twice Paul saved the lives of prisoners. His life was certainly transformed. It was for his own good, and it definitely pleased God. He was becoming like Christ.
The results are that we are better able to know and follow God’s will and, therefore, do what is good and well-pleasing to God with our lives.
Dare to Be Different
Look at your own list. Who are you becoming?
What do you need to give to the living Christ today to be transformed?
By faith, you can “Dare to Be Different.” Accept the challenge. Submit to the living Christ an area in your life that still needs to be transformed by Him. And, trust Him to do that.
Romans 12-16 by Dianne Miller on Bible.org
Radical Acts Bible Study (read online)
Radical Acts Bible Study (download pdf)
The God-Dependent Woman Bible Study of 2 Corinthians (read online)
The God-Dependent Woman Bible Study of 2 Corinthians (download pdf)
Graceful Living Bible Study (read online)
Graceful Living Bible Study (download pdf)