Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Christians Have Same Behavior Patterns as the World


Quoting James Boice . . .

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world." This sentence in Romans 12:2 has two key words: "world," which is actually "age" (aion, meaning, "this present age" in contrast to "the age to come"); and "do not conform," which is a compound having at its root the word "scheme." So the verse means, "Do not let the age in which you live force you into its scheme of thinking and behaving." The idea is that the world has its ways of thinking and doing things and is exerting pressure on Christians to conform to it. But instead of being conformed to the world, Christians are to be changed from within to be increasingly like Jesus Christ. The chief problem with the evangelical church is that we have been increasingly conformed to this world's patterns and that, if we are to see a new reformation, we will have to break away from these patterns and seek to recover the authentic biblical gospel, learning again to think and act in God's way.

The first phrase of Romans 12:2 is a warning against worldliness, of course. But as soon as we use the word 'worldly' we have to make clear what real worldliness is. When I was growing up in a fundamentalist church I was taught that worldliness was such pursuits as smoking, drinking, dancing, and playing cards. A Christian girl might say, "I don't smoke, and I don't chew, and I don't go with boys who do." But that is not what Romans 12:2 is about. To think of worldliness only in those terms is to trivialize what is a far more serious and far more subtle problem.

The clue to what is in view here is that in the next phrase Paul urges, as an alternative to being "conformed" to this world, being "transformed by the renewing of your mind." This means that he is concerned about a way of thinking rather than merely a way of behaving, though right behavior will follow naturally if our thinking is set straight. The worldliness we are to break away from and repudiate is the world's "worldview," what the Germans call Weltanschauung, a comprehensive, systematic way of looking at all things. We are to break out of the world's categories of thinking and allow our minds to be molded by the Word of God instead.

In our day Christians have not done this very well, and that is the reason why they are so often "worldly" in the other senses too. In fact, it is a sad commentary on our churches, verified by numerous polls, that Christians in general have nearly the same thoughts, values, and behavior patterns as the world around them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In I Corinthians 2 Paul says, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. I would invite us all including to those who espouse their new 'truths' to ask the question of themselves of what spirit or Spirit are we?

9:33 AM  

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