Tuesday, November 3, 2015
What a Transformationist Model Looks Like in Culture: Showing God Is Great
Having summarized in my last post what H. Richard Niebuhr described as the Conversionist (or Transformationist) model of Christians interacting with the culture, I wanted to give a good example of what that looks like. Here is the beginning of a recent message John Piper gave in which he described how our transformed lives as Christians affect what people around us see about God. The full video is embedded at the end.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
We are going to look at the first two verses in Romans 12 and talk about the will of God, what it means, how to find it, and what it means to have your mind renewed to find it.
As you know, chapter 12 follows the first eleven chapters. And it begins with a glorious “therefore” (“I appeal to you therefore”). The wonders that he is calling us into in walking with Christ in a renewed way are built on massive theology in chapters 1-11. It doesn’t get any bigger than Romans 1-11. It doesn’t get any deeper than Romans 1-11. And this is what it was all building towards: new minds discerning the will of God and lives of worship.
“I appeal to you, therefore brothers [on the basis of Romans 1-11 and all the glories there and the pillars that suck down into the bottomless foundations] by those mercies [the mercies of God that I have unfolded for 11 chapters] present your bodies [that is, your whole bodily life, what you are everywhere you go including everything you do] as a living sacrifice. Your bodily existence is not going to die. It goes up on the altar, but it won’t die so that it ceases to live. It dies so that it lives a different way. As a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
It is possible, Christian, to live pleasing to God. Don’t overstate the doctrine of the justification of the ungodly. Don’t make it cancel other Scriptures. People are doing that today by taking the doctrine of justification of the ungodly, a beautiful, Romans-taught doctrine, and extrapolating from it that you can’t please God, that you can’t be acceptable to God day by day. All you can do is confess that you are ungodly and bank on the righteousness of Jesus. That is false.
You are now called — built on justification by faith alone and accepted on the basis of the righteousness of Christ alone — to offer sacrifices to God in your body that please him, sacrifices that he smiles upon. This afternoon you can do something that pleases God. You can make a phone call that pleases God. You can speak a word of sweetness and kindness to your spouse that pleases God.
A Life of Worship
The aim of these two verses is that all of life becomes worship. "Present your bodies, your bodily life as living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship." In other words, the aim of all human life is that God in Christ be displayed as infinitely valuable. That is what life is for, to live your life in such a way that by what you say, what you think, what you feel, what you do with your arms and your lips and your eyes and your legs and your hands, all will show he is more valuable than anything.
That is what worship is: showing God’s value, supreme value over all other things. So if you have a job, do your job in a way that shows that Christ is supremely valuable. And if you can’t do that at your job, either change jobs or do verse two better.
When your life becomes worship, God begins to look valuable to other people. God looks infinitely worthy when others look at you. When they look at you, it looks like you value God more than money. It looks like you value God more than power. It looks like you value God more than illicit sex. So what is with you? They want to know the reason for the hope that is in you.
You probably don’t have to change jobs. That would probably be a mistake. That is not going to solve the problem. But verse two will solve it. And that is what we are going to think about for a while here.
You Are New, Now Get New!
Verse two is Paul’s answer to the question: How all of life becomes worship (from verse one). It doesn’t call for mere change your external behavior. It says, “Be renewed in your minds.” Now I have got to step back and get a little Pauline theology in here so that “being renewed” is understood in the context of what has really happened to you, Christians.
For the rest, see the video below.