(From the Message)Romans 12:1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 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. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(From the New American Standard Bible)Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Life sure is difficult sometimes. It is so easy to get caught up in the gossip, the chaos and the little things in this world. These verses just scream to me that I need to change my life. I need to lay down the materialism, the selfish culture, and the success-at-all-cost attitude and embrace God.
I have found that when I start to get caught up in the world, my life is unfulfilling, depressing, and always needing more. Just the other day I found myself getting caught up into my kid’s drama. I started to get angry at the situation. Instead of asking God what I needed to do, I just took charge. I was letting my culture drag me down into its insecurity. I was falling into the trap – you know the one that says, “Mom, everyone does it or everyone has it.” Yep, I was acting like a teenager.
When Pete and I decided to move out into the middle of the forest (okay it isn’t a forest, but it sure seems like it), we were faced with many people asking us, “Why on earth would we leave our beautiful suburban home?” It was a valid question. We were leaving something that seemed so perfect.
Unfortunately, we also were leaving something that was creating unpleasantness in our life. We were becoming exactly what we didn’t want to become. We were letting society turn our heads toward materialism and success (success according to the world). Neither of us liked this (I can mostly speak for myself). We also were teaching our kids that “things” were more important than God. Most importantly, we were giving everything to our kids, instead of making them earn them. We were instilling an attitude of entitlement within our kids.
Now, not all suburbanites do this. There are many people who live a faithful, God filled life in suburbia – we just weren’t one of them. What I found when we got to our new abode was that life can be so much simpler without all those societal demands. Keeping-up-with-the-Jones was no way for me to live. I needed to move away from all that and focus my attention back toward God. Not only do our kids thank us for this move, but Pete and I are happier because of this move.
Finding a way to focus your attention back to God is very important. It might not be as drastic as our situation was, but it will probably be difficult. Once we get ingrained in society, it is hard to find our way out of that hole. We make ourselves believe that what we are doing is right, but deep down we know it isn’t. We make ourselves think that “everyone does this” so if must be okay – but it’s not okay. We force ourselves to fall into this trap because doing what society demands is so much easier. But is it what is best for us? Romans 12:1-2 disagrees that society’s way is the best way. It adamantly disagrees.
The last sentence of The Message says, “Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Ouch. That puts it quite bluntly, wouldn’t you say? Culture brings you down, God lifts you up. What are you doing today in your life that has shown your love of society over God?