“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Think about all the church message boards, inspirational quote walls, and Pinterest boards you have come across. Have you ever seen an image with a fish swimming the opposite direction of the others, a flower standing on its own, or the friendly smile of a random girl? If so, chances are you have most likely come across the verse Romans 12:2. It’s literally everywhere.
As I have mentioned before, I was given an incredible opportunity this past month. I was called to serve at a camp where we strive to give high school aged campers the best week of their life. It seems as though every time I spend more than a few hours on a camp property I stumble across Romans 12:2. Okay, awesome. Don’t be like the rest of the world, got it. Sounds simple. Yeah, simple when you’re not living in the real world. We would not be setting campers up for the best week of their life if we were acting like everyone else in their life. That’s the camp world, that’s the beloved community the intentional conversations and the constant reminders of how great our God truly is. The camp speaker for the duration of my assignment often said, “You need to leave a different way than you came”. For the first time in my life this seemingly commonplace verse struck me with immense power. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. To be transformed literally means to change in condition, nature, or character. It refers to a permanent change, not a temporary one. In understanding the entirety of this verse I found it extremely helpful to check out The Message version. “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.” In order to be transformed we need to place every aspect of our life in front of God and respond to what he does with it. God desires to renew our mind in regards to every aspect of our life. As the camp speaker said, He wants us to leave a different way than we came.
Each time I have left a camp property I have fallen back into my old ways, I have become “well-adjusted to [my] culture” and “conform[ed] to the pattern of this world”. So what’s different this time? Me. God hasn’t changed one bit. This time I learned that I was not a physical being at camp for a spiritual experience, but I am a spiritual being who was there for a physical experience. God broke me down this month to show me how he is able to renew me. Waking up every morning to rake the beach and sweep the paths doesn’t exactly strike me as something most people would classify as “fun”. Good thing God never called his children to be like the rest of the world, otherwise summer staff would be doomed. There were days I wanted to give up. Days I wanted nothing to do with outspoken campers, event set-ups, morning chores, and picking up trash. Days I felt simply defeated. It was in these days that God taught me the most and even brought out the best in me. What if I didn’t get out of bed on those days? What if I skipped events? What if I stepped over trash? In The Message it says “God helping you: take your everyday, ordinary life…” Every single day I felt defeated or unwilling to serve, God helped me in those everyday ordinary tasks. God renewed my heart and mind so that “his good, pleasing and perfect will” could be achieved every day. Not only is that so I know how loved I am, but so campers could have the best week of their life learning how loved they are. After a month of early mornings, late nights, heavy lifting, tedious tasks, and countless tears I have learned the importance of being fully transformed and the importance of allowing Him to renew my mind. Most importantly, I have learned the importance of not conforming to the patterns or standards of this world because guess what, they suck. My worth does not come from those around me, from how I serve, or from how I do my hair or makeup. My worth comes from the Lord who made me perfectly in his image. I can honestly say I have been changed from the inside out and this version is here to stay.