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Conformed or Transformed? 3 keys to God's best for your life

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A Washington State trooper stopped a driver recently for an HOV lane violation. Why is this news? The driver had a larger-than-life cutout of Donald Trump's head attached to the passenger seat of his car.

It's not unusual in election years to see politicians' heads in all sorts of strange places. I'm sure there will be a run on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump masks for Halloween. People have probably been impersonating politicians as long as there have been politicians.

When it comes to the most famous Person of all, however, imitation is more than an option—it is an imperative.

A familiar text

I preached my first sermon forty years ago. My text was Romans 12:1–2. While I hope I have changed in positive ways over these four decades, my love for this text has remained constant. It is one of the passages God has especially used in my life.

The text is familiar: "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." We could spend hours with these remarkable words, but let's focus in this article on three critical keys to God's best for your life.

One: Put Christ on the throne of your heart.

Paul makes his "appeal" to all who are his "brothers" (the Greek term refers to men and women), those who have made Christ their Savior. He calls them to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" (v. 1). "Present" is a technical term for presenting a sacrifice on an altar. "Bodies" refers to the entire life. Not just Sunday, but Monday; not just a tenth of our money, but all of our resources; not just our ethics at church, but our behavior at school and work. We are to do this as a "living sacrifice," a daily, regular lifestyle.

In other words, enthrone Christ as the King of your life. There's room for only one person on the throne of your heart. Write a blank check to your Lord—promise that you will do whatever he wills you to do. This is a daily commitment God calls us to make.

Two: Stop following the culture's influence.

Paul continues: "Do not be conformed to this world" (v. 2a). The Greek literally says, "Stop being conformed to this world," assuming that we are all tempted in this way. God wants us to refuse the culture's values and priorities. Ask yourself what the fallen culture tells you to do, then reject it.

Three: Seek the mind of God.

Once you have enthroned Jesus and chosen to refuse the culture's influence, you can "be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (v. 2b). "Transformed" translates a Greek word meaning to be made over, to be changed from the inside out. If you give your mind to God in prayer, Bible study, worship, and other spiritual disciplines, you position yourself to be transformed by his Spirit.

When you take these three steps every day, you will be able to discern and follow God's "good and acceptable and perfect" will. "Good" means that which works well in practical experience; "acceptable" refers to that which brings delight and joy; "perfect" means that which brings complete fulfillment and purpose. In other words, you will experience God's best for your life, every day.

Note that God's call transcends circumstances. There are no exceptions or loopholes here. If we crown Christ our King, refuse the culture's influence, and give our minds to Jesus, the Spirit will lead us into God's perfect will for us. Always.

A catalytic lifestyle

With this consequence: we will become catalysts for cultural transformation. We cannot expect the fallen world to want what we offer if it is no different than what they have. If they don't see Jesus in us, why would they want Jesus in them?

Consider this perceptive statement from blogger David Fiorazo:

"I see it all around me, including in my own life at times. The lines between Christianity and the secular world are increasingly more blurred. There's apathy and complacency in me, in my friends, in the Church, and it seems like we've become followers—not of Christ, but of the world. Don't agree? Here are a few questions: Are Christians becoming more like the product that Hollywood and the media put out, or is Hollywood and the media being influenced by Christians? How about young people today?

"Take a good look at youth and the public schools. What are kids today doing, watching, and listening to? Many are texting and twittering, watching YouTube videos and R-rated movies, and listening to Lady Gaga & Lil' Wayne. And from my research, the sad truth is that there is not much of a difference between a Christian family and a family who doesn't attend a church or is not religious. Not surprisingly, the abortion rate among teen girls and the divorce rate among adults is not that different either when you compare people who attend church regularly and those who do not.

"We need to be set apart and stand out as examples of what is good and pure and holy, don't we?"

Fiorazo is right. Whether the issue is pornography, divorce, or abortion, Christians are not statistically different from the rest of the culture. Only if we stop being conformed to the culture can we be transformed by the Lord.

God wants us to live in such a way that when people follow our example, they follow Jesus. Paul urged his readers to "be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). But he had to imitate Jesus before he could ask others to imitate him.

When was the last time you intentionally and consciously made Jesus the King of your day? When last did you recognize and refuse the influence of the culture in your life? When last did you spend time with God so that his Spirit could renew your mind and transform your life? These three keys will open the door to God's very best for your life, every day. Will you make them your lifestyle more than ever before?

Think about it: if people were more like you, would they be more like Jesus?

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