TEXT: Romans 12:1-8
TITLE: “Changing Our World”
THESIS: Live a transformed life and change the world.
- All I want to do is change the world before I die. – That’s been my desire for 50 years, and the time is getting shorter for me. … Not everyone wants to do that. Some never did. Many people have given up. I understand that feeling as I read the news – the tragedy and desperation and grief – the poverty, violence, abuse, death.
- We can never give up the desire! God’s desire – and God’s continuing work in this world – is a new creation, with the old gone and everything made new. … That’s what the kingdom of God is all about – and that’s what we are called to do as followers of Jesus – to make the kingdom of God a reality here and now by the way we live and the work we do.
- V.2 of our text says: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – That’s the kingdom of God. That is to be the life of those who follow Jesus. … And it leads to change in the world around us.
- An older translation by JB Phillips says: Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold… and Eugene Peterson, in The Message says it this way: Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out… And unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you.
- This is a continuing work of change within us. And as we live this way, year after year, we give ourselves to a life of serving God with all the gifts God gives us. That’s the rest of the text. … Begin with internal transformation and serve God in external mission – beyond ourselves – to change the world.
- We have different gifts, he says – faith, speaking for God, serving others, teaching, encouraging, leading, generous giving, and showing kindness. God’s gifts are far more numerous than that, but we get the point. Whatever gifts – or resources – we receive from God, use all of that to live this transformed life so it changes the world – so we make a difference in our world every day.
- In 2020 our nation faces four major crises at once: (1) a pandemic worse than anything we’ve experienced in 100 years – (2) an economy worse for most people than anything since the Depression – (3) deep divisions, with heightened anger and fear, caused by the deep-seated racism in our country – and (4) raging fires, destructive hurricanes, and rising sea levels and flooding all caused by rapidly-escalating climate change which we refuse to stop by changing the way we live.
- It’s almost too much for any of us. Most of us want to shut it all out and enjoy what we can of life. – And many people do. – Yet as Christians, as those who follow Jesus, we cannot. We are called to change the world by the way that we live.
- This is our calling – refuse to be conformed to the world around us, and be transformed within ourselves. The prophet Ezekiel spoke for God: A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you.
- God does not give us a new heart – a new life – new wisdom, strength, and power – for ourselves alone. God gives it to us so we can make a difference, so we can change the word, so we can help bring about a new creation.
- Our mission statement says that in all we do, we seek transformation in our world. – An inclusive community of hope and love – serving, caring, and learning together – bringing transformation. … May we live into our mission every day. – Refuse to be conformed to the patterns of this world, the culture around us – Be transformed in our mind and heart so that God can bring the best out of us. And use every gift and resource from God to make a difference and change the world!