March 15. Romans 12:1-2 part 5: Non-conformity, This Evil Age, and Saying Goodbye.

Romans 12:1-2. 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. 2 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.

To be conformed to this world is to lose sight of what it means to live a sacrificial life. Do not be conformed to this world more literally says – “continually resist being pressed into the mold of this age.” This “age” or this “world” that we live in is anything that is opposed to God and his redemptive plan. Both Jesus and Paul called this age that we live in “evil.” In Ephesians, Paul will say that Satan controls this age (2:2).

It’s not about things. It’s a mindset. A way of seeing things. A way of perceiving. It’s using everything good that God made for our worship of him for your own self-promotion and self-righteousness. It’s using the things of this life to make yourself the ruler of your own life (“I will be like the most high” – Lucifer).

Both Moses and Ramses are pressed into the present evil age.

Non-conformity to this evil age is not about simply obeying a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s not just us adhering to a bunch of rules. It’s about embracing the way we were designed. It’s about living the life that God has created us to live, a life of spiritual worship. Anything that falls short of worshipping God belongs to this age, not the age to come.

Materialism, sexual expression, FOMO, self-actualization, performancism, idolatry, and even religion. Get more. Do more. Leave a legacy. Fulfill your bucket list. Be your true self. All of this is contrary to the life of sacrificial worship that God has designed us for. We are being squeezed into a mold of selfishness, and self-rule rather than the mold of Christ-like self-sacrifice.

Things that would press us into the mold of this age are all around us. Outside forces like technology, social media, advertising, are constantly shaping you and me. They are conforming us to this world. Comparison. Perfectionism. Over-efficiency. Overwork. Our technological society is molding us into a people who refuse to rest from our work, refuse to cultivate real relationships, and refuse to accept the life God has given us.

God has a specific design for us in every area of our lives. Sex and gender. Marriage. Work. Relationships. Parenting. Friendship. Even death. Does God have a design for all these things? How do we perceive them? Is this age we live in pressing us into a mold that is contrary to God’s design for humanity?

Christ in us transforms us by the renewing of the mind (more on that tomorrow). We are not blinded by the “god of this age” anymore (2 Cor. 4:4). It is possible for us to live within this age and yet not allow it to press us into its form. How? Because we are the New Creation. We are able to resist this age because we have been re-made for the next.

This battle for the control of the mind was made vivid for me and many others today as we all said good bye to an amazing friend and brother in Christ at my church. When someone who is so brilliant and so full of God’s love and potential passes at only 35 years old, with so much seemingly left undone, it is then that “the god of this age” wants to press us into the mindset of this evil age. He wants us to measure Maurice Harton’s life only from an earthly view, a finite view, a “worldly” view. But union with Christ allows us to face the reality of his death in this age while resisting this age’s interpretation of the meaning of his death, the finality of his death, the hopelessness of his death. Maurice is the New Creation. He wasn’t made for this age. He was made for the age to come. Can that give us some hope as we say goodbye? Can that reality allow us to resist being conformed to this evil age and it’s definition of a “full” life and its hopelessness in death? I pray it can.

Can you identify ways that this age is pressing you into its mold? How can your union with Christ allow you to resist this pressure?

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