Have you ever decided to diet, exercise, or both to ‘get in shape?’ A great many of us have done this. Generally our resolutions don’t really bear fruit until we shift from hope, or longing, to a committed practice. Once we transitioned to practice we develop a growing ability to help others through the same process. So let’s explore the same concept in relation to getting in shape, spiritually, so that we can disciple others.
To apply getting in spiritual shape let’s examine this familiar passage written by Paul.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
Do we generally notice that implicit in this passage is the idea that conformity is not an option? The option is only in relation to what we are being conformed to. The warning is to not be conformed to the world, because Paul recognized that our calling is to be conformed to Jesus. We are always being shaped by something. Our culture sends us messages all the time, messages about what to believe, how to act, or who to listen to and in the age of social media can be particularly cruel.
The way to “not be conformed to this world” is to train our hearts and minds to filter these many cultural messages through the truth of scripture. This is the how: it requires knowing the key principles and concepts in His word so that we choose truth and reject lies (think of the belt of truth girding our walk as seen in Ephesians 6). Examples in our culture abound. Some big ones are the sanctity of life and marriage between a man and a woman. Scripture is clear on both.
Simpler examples of using the belt of truth are honesty and integrity. I remember from many years ago working with a lady who let everyone know she was a Christian but had no qualms about lying to get what she wanted. They were mainly very public ‘white lies.’ Our colleagues all knew we were both Christians so I felt I needed to address this with her given her poor public witness. When I did she simply accused me of being a legalist. For her scripture was an option to apply when convenient, not a standard. For believers being conformed to the image of Jesus it is the standard. This is who we are.
When we train our minds and hearts to habitually embrace the truth of scripture and filter cultural messages through truth we move into a position to help others do the same thing because we can pass on both what we know and what we are becoming. Our experience establishes a solid foundation to stand on (think of the shoes of the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6) so we can be victorious and help others how to be the same.
So, are you in shape and being conformed to His image?
NOTE: On a personal note, I am taking a short hiatus from my posts, likely 2-3 weeks. I have received many words in recent years about the need to slow down/rest, which I did not heed. With my recent retirement (which I think of as a transition more into Kingdom work) I recently received four independent prophetic words about being in a season of preparation and the Lord calling me to a deeper place of rest and intimacy with Him as the key to that process. In fact when I looked back at my prayer notes I realized these prophetic words were a clear answer to a prayer I prayed and recorded on May 18. The prayer came out of an encounter with the Father that morning. So, while I trust I won’t be gone long, I currently need to be obedient (finally) and focus on going deeper in my relationship with my heavenly Father or miss what He has prepared for me to walk in. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)