Be Transformed

“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.”  Romans 12:2

Last month we talked about sacrifice, and this verse comes right after the one about being a “living sacrifice” to God.  I think that’s interesting.  When we present ourselves sacrificially to God, our minds are renewed and transformed.  We are able to better discern God’s will for our lives, instead of giving in to what the world tells us is right.

How does our mind become renewed?  Although we are reborn in our baptism, and justified with God through the sacrifice of Christ, our sanctification is a process in which we participate.  Renewal of our mind is part of our sanctification.  We learn to see things through the mind of Christ, we learn to do the things the Bible tells us are right, we have a different viewpoint than we had before.  There are many tools that may help us to “renew” our minds.  This past weekend some of my fellow bloggers were on a Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat weekend.  I am hoping this week they will blog about how their weekend was a renewal and a transformation.

A Via de Cristo weekend is three days of concentration on the fundamentals of Christianity, concentrating on the teachings of Jesus Christ and how individual believers can influence the environment of their homes, communities and churches.  It is not just academic, there is much fellowship and singing;  there are times of worship.  Often participants come back feeling they have changed.

So, I am asking those who have attended a Via de Cristo weekend to send us your comments on how this experience renewed and transformed you.  (There are similar retreats in other denominations:  Cursillo, The Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dios )

Books on Sacrficial Living

The Hiding Place & Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.  She was imprisoned for her activities.  Her first book, The Hiding Place, tells about this ordeal.  Tramp For the Lord is the sequel.

The Duty of Delight:  The Diaries of Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day was an American journalist, social activist, and devout Catholic convert.  She tirelessly served the poor by creating a community dedicated to direct aid for the homeless. 

Love Mercy by Lisa Samson and Ty Samson

This is the story of a family’s journey from living in a five-thousand square foot house in suburban Baltimore to caring about justice, mercy and the kingdom of God breaking into our suffering world.  They eventually sold their home to purchase a run down Victorian which they call a “hospitality house,” open to those who need a place to heal, be safe, or just relax for a while.  Lisa and daughter, Ty, eventually travel to Africa to chronicle the AIDS crisis.

The Diary of Elisabeth Koren (1853-1855)

This diary takes us on a journey across the Atlantic to the frontier of the Middle West with her young husband who served many Lutheran congregations.  Travel is primitive;  her husband is gone for weeks at a time, and Elisabeth lives with other families in a crowded Iowa log cabin until the first parsonage is finally built.

These women can be mentors for us in trying to be a “living sacrifice.  Have you read any of these books?  Will you?  Do you have others to suggest?  Let us know.

A Sacrificial Example

He (Job) said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there;  the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;  blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Job 1:21

 

My friend, Paul, was a good man and he was dying. After retiring from a successful career, he spent much of his time volunteering at the local rescue mission, working with alcoholics and addicts.  He was a faithful, generous member of our congregation and an example of Christian living to all who knew him. 

 

The rare and aggressive form of leukemia which Paul contracted did not respond to treatment.  Yet he did not rail against his fate or question God’s goodness. He simply continued to use the time God had given him.  Each time he was hospitalized he pushed his IV pole through the wards, handing out Bibles and telling others about Jesus. 

 

Paul knew that everything he had belonged to God:  his time, his money, even his life.  He spent it all wisely.  His life was a “living sacrifice.”

 

Gracious God, teach us to remember that everything comes from your hand.  Help us to use all our circumstances as an opportunity to praise and thank you.  Amen 

 

For further reading check out Lamentations 3:1-24; Philippians 1:12-30; Matthew 26:36-42; Psalm 23

Who has been an example of living sacrifice to you?

Why Sacrifice?

I am glad that the Lutheran ladies chose “love” for our first theme.  The more I think about love, the more I see how it informs every part of Christian life, and every Christian concept.  Last month, a quote by Martin Luther reminded me that love should interpret the law; this month, I am thinking about how love should motivate sacrifice.

The dictionary defines sacrifice as giving something up, usually for a better cause. Many of us have given up our time and disposable income in the present so that we can graduate from college, start a business, or buy a home in the future.  This kind of sacrifice is essentially selfish because we are the ones who will benefit.  We may also sacrifice out of training or feelings of duty:  for example, giving time and money to the church or participating in community service because we’ve been taught it’s the right thing to do.  We might sacrifice for our family members or friends because we love them, but Jesus tells us “even the tax collectors”(Matt. 5:46) do this.

Christians are called to a different kind of sacrifice. One Christian author calls it “love without recompense,” or you might say, “love without any thought of reward.”  This is what the apostle Paul means when he says we must be “a living sacrifice.”(Romans 12:1).   This chapter goes on to tell us exactly what that kind of sacrificial living means:  humility, willingness to use our gifts to help the Church and genuine love for others, including our enemies and those who mistreat us.  Christ, as always, is our model.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

The season of Lent is a time when we think of sacrifice, maybe even giving something up for a time. I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to examine your motives:  Why am I sacrificing this?  Who does this sacrifice really benefit?  Is love my motive?

Send me your thoughts and comments, and tell me what you are sacrificing during Lent.