Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt.28:19-20
These were the words, referred to as the “Great Commission” spoken by Jesus to his apostles. These men had been his disciples, his personal students for 3+ years. It was with these men that Jesus lived and talked with daily; and it was to these men that he gave the secrets of the Kingdom, too. “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables Mark 4:11. But what about the common man? What about the man who reads and still hears parables? what is his, I mean, our “Commission”?
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Rom.12:1-2
These are the words written by the Apostle Paul to the young church in Rome; but what did they mean to them, and what do they point to for us today? How does transformation take place and what is mind renewal? What is the difference between being conformed and being transformed? What is spiritual worship and how does one present your body as a living sacrifice? Paul writes these words to a city that years later would be seeing Christians offered to the lions and people would be literally living sacrifices. I can only imagine that the the commission Paul lays out here is what prepared and enabled those men and women of the future to be able to do what they did. The sacrifice of those men and women change a nation and the world. What was it they did to prepare for that day?
present your bodies as a living sacrifice – Paul first addresses the state of the physical body and the all physical scenes to be offered up fully alive and operational but in a state of sacrifice i.e offering. Offering means “to give”; its a state of being “given too” as one might give himself in marriage or give himself to training for a certain task .
holy and pleasing to God – Holy means to be “set apart” this being a state that is fully acceptable to God.
Here we see a person in a physical body who has set aside that physical body, mind, and, emotions and is fully committed to train and do whatever is necessarily to accomplish the task.
this is your spiritual worship – λογικός, ή, όν – logikos, logical and means divine reason . and the word worship is the idea of divine service – so it could read your Divine Logical service. Or the Service that will transform logic into the Divine.
Here Paul goes with a negative a “WHAT NOT TO DO”
Do not be conformed to this age
Conformed – συσχηματίζω suschématizó; means “having an outward shape” – to conform oneself (i. e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern. In other words don’t try to be like someone else. Paul talks about this further in a letter to the baby Christians in Corinth when he says: What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”…..For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
Paul and Apollos and any man cannot cause growth. At best a man can point you toward the answer within and at worst he can give you a teaching, law, doctrine, practice or anything the natural mind can see, mimic and conform to. Idolatry was the #1 enemy of God throughout the writings of the Old Testament. An Idol is any fixed image, idea, teaching or philosophy that the mind can identify, break apart to study and conform to. Idolatry was the hardest thing for Israel to let go of and today is no different. We might not worship statues made by human hands that much, but, we do worship i.e. serve doctrines, teachings, concepts and traditions taught by men in the place of the Living indwelling Christ.
As I see it, the biggest hindrance to the kingdom of God being on earth is not those who would speak against Jesus Christ but those that would Idolize Him. What do I mean by that? I mean those that would take and turn Christ, the Living Word of God into a book or story to be studied, memorized, worshiped and finally conformed to. The Transformation of a Mind does not take place by learning about Jesus Christ, the Transformation of a mind takes place in KNOWING CHRIST THE LIFE WITHIN YOU.
be transformed by the renewing of your mind –
In other words Transformation takes place by BEING WITH THAT REALITY THAT IS IN YOU!
This is the very essence of Meditation and the practice of Being Still. This is what others have called Union with God and the Practice of his Presence.
The Renewing is the process of making that which is, new again and the Mind is: the comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining; hence, specifically, the intellective faculty, the understanding: (Strong’s Conc)
A Mind made New so it can perceive, understand and feel God to the capacity it was created to. A Mind no longer perceiving its nakedness as shame but a mind freed from the conditioning of Idol thoughts to a New Mind metamorphosed into the instrument of the Divine.
so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God
How many times have I heard people pray to know what God’s will is and yet I can’t recall ever having heard anyone ask or pray about how they could have their mind renewed. People want the ability to know God’s will but are often unwilling or more often are simply ignorant to the process and work of mind renewal.
For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. Rom.8:5-9
How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night. Ps.1:1-2
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; Jn.16:13
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jer.31:33
And Finally more of Paul’s words describing this process of Mind renewal in another way. A way in which we all can relate to: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1Cor.13:11. A childish mind is not a wrong, evil or bad mind it is simply an ignorant childish one.
The kingdom of God is within you and yet we seem to think that the answers to our life is found in holy books or the teachings of men. Inside of us all is a treasure that is waiting to be found and explored, a Christ that wants to be known. As the scriptures says, “Be still and know that I am God”. The practice of stillness seems to be a lost one among those who take the title Christian. They take a name and try to take a commission that is not theirs. Going into all the world without first being transformed is the same as going into battle crippled, blind, deaf, dumb and without one weapon. You want to take up the Great Commission then first present your bodies for sacrifice and your minds for transformation. How do you plan to teach people about knowing God’s will when you yourself have not gone through the process necessary to know it. Moses prepared 40 years in a very quite dessert. Jesus was unheard of from 12 to 30 as he prepared; and Paul 15 years in obscurity going through this practice of stillness and meditation, experiencing the third heaven and having his mind made new and his life transformed. It is only through face to face intimacy that any of us can ever express the light needed to cause the darkness to flee. The practice of meditation is not the answer; it is simple a means by which you can discover for yourself what God has written on your heart. As Paul wrote:
You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2Cor.3:2-6
If God’s will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven then it will take men and women who are willing to take the time and effort to discover the reality that lies within them. It will take time in desserts to find the wonderful secrets that have been written down in their own hearts. It will take individual people who want to know God as they are known by God and it will take the brave who are willing to lay down their idols and search for what they do not yet know. Before the Great Commission comes this, the Commission you don’t usually hear about: it’s the One where you have to go outside the gate.
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Heb.13:12-14
Its lonely outside the place where you grew up. No family, no church friends; just the rejects of where you came from. Can you leave your physical, religious, political, educational and spiritual home to discover the truth within you? Can you leave all that you have known to be truth, to stand naked face to face with a God you don’t really know but want to? Maybe this will give you a little different understanding of the words spoken so long ago that said:
How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. Matt.7:14
the earth and all of creation hopes you find it!
June 25, 2012 | Categories: Bible, Bible Study, Church Life, Disciples of Jesus Christ, Discipleship, House Church, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Organic Church, Reimagining Church, Religion, The Lord, The Word, Truth, Wise Sayings | Tags: living sacrifice | 2 Comments