The main goal of our transformation in Christ is proving, first to ourselves, then to the world around us, that God’s intent for everyone is very good. In fact, it’s perfect and exactly what everyone is looking for, though they may not know it or believe it.
We need our minds renewed because we come from a culture that’s the opposite of this Kingdom culture.
For instance, do you know why the news focuses on the bad and negative? It’s because it’s what gets people’s attention. Historically, when they’ve tried focusing on good things, the audience ratings drop. The crazy truth is, people like hearing bad news! Disasters, even when they don’t involve us, fascinate us.
Conflict, criticism, gossip, divisiveness, judgmentalism and a religious and political spirit are prevalent in our culture because, after all, our culture is made up of…us.
Whether we realize it or not, we tend to think being bad and edgy is cool and being critical is being discerning.
This is why we need our jaded minds renewed first, so that we can affect the culture around us with the pure goodness of God. Here’s the way the Message Bible paraphrases Romans 12:2 in this regard:
“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.” (Rom.12:2 MSG)
What’s the normal conversation around the proverbial water cooler at your work? At your social gathering places? Is it always uplifting, affirming, encouraging? Are people pulling you up or dragging you down, calling you out or calling you up? For most, it’s not generally a positive experience.
Our natural state as a culture is to be reserved, cynical, doubtful, skeptical, competitive, and fearful.
This is why, as Dr. Glenn Pickering puts it, we don’t know how to do intimacy in our relationships, so we play TAG.
When you play tag, there are no teams.You’re on your own.
The object is not to be “it.” You will do almost anything not to be it.
Because when the social hive has determined you’re “it,” then everyone can be as mean to you as they want. After all, you’re “it.”
Tag is the relationally immature game we play all the time. Perhaps we’ve learned how to play from our family upbringing. We don’t really like it but we fear intimacy and being vulnerability too much much to stop playing the game.
We have to be changed from the inside-out in order to relate to people otherwise. Being authentic, open and honest is so…scary. We certainly don’t want to risk being “it.”
This is the way we tend to look at the goodness of God. But here’s the thing. If this Good News sounds too good to be true to you, you’re probably just starting to scratch the surface of how infinitely good He really is.
We have no mental grid for something so good, so pure and so right, so we have to mitigate this “good news” with conditions, even bad news, in order to make ourselves feel better. In our disappointed minds we think nothing can be that good. There has to be a catch.
The only catch is our struggle with the fact that there is no catch.
We would never openly admit disapproval of pure goodness because we’ve really never openly admitted anything so deeply honest to God…or ourselves.
This is why, even as devoted Christians, we don’t really believe that we’re filled with the fullness that fills God and that there’s infinite joy and wild pleasures in His presence (Eph.3:19; Psalm 16:11; John 15:11). That doesn’t sound right to our wounded soul.
I can’t imagine a Goodness living inside of me that’s so infinitely greater than the passing goodness that made Moses’ face shine so bright that people could not even look at him (2 Cor.3:7-8).
It certainly doesn’t resonate with my current experience, so the best I can muster is a hollow amen and blend back into the culture around me.
This is why you and I must give up this lost cause and allow God to love us, to embrace us until all the vitriolic poison runs out of us, so that we can finally prove that God is not like our experience, or like those we trusted who hurt us, or like the world that scares us.
He is only good. And you and I have got to learn what that means.
I do know this. Our transformed heart and His overflowing love working through us is what everyone longs for but doesn’t dare to believe. I know that His intention for us, for them, for all mankind, is the most perfectly good and acceptable thing we could ever imagine. Actually, it’s beyond anything we can possibly ever dream of or hope for.
“Now glory be to God,
who by his mighty power at work within us
is able to do far more
than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—
infinitely beyond our highest prayers,
desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Eph.3:20 TLB)
Beloved of God, this is why we must be transformed. God has already demonstrated His intention toward us…and them. This world He so dearly loves that He paid what was most precious to Him needs to know this goodness. Let Him get His full reward. It must start with us.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
It’s all good.