Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.
If you took the last post (or the last sermon, or both) to heart, then at some point this past week you’ve stopped and asked yourself “Does It Glorify God?” And if you’ve asked yourself that question enough times, and given yourself honest answers each time, then at some point your response has been “no, it does not.”
What happens next?
The ‘right’ answer may seem obvious, but there’s a difference between what’s obvious and what’s carried out. In most situations, realizing your actions did not measure up to your ideals results in a sort of grief process. First, you feel guilty. Sometimes guilt lasts a long time. Sometimes it lasts just a moment. Usually, guilt is followed by resolution: you commit yourself to do better next time. Slowly, though, the memory fades, habit takes over, and when the next time comes along, you find yourself making the same choice as before. Over time, this cycle of failure and guilt leads to frustration, and chances are you just stop trying altogether.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The path of Jesus is not a path marked by guilt, shame, and legalistic adherence to a set of rules. It’s a journey of growth and discovery; formation and transformation.
Sports psychologists have discovered something interesting about the way humans function: we are much better at thinking in positive terms than in negative ones. When a basketball player approaches the free throw line and thinks to herself “I can not miss this shot,” her subconscious mind reinforces the “miss this shot” portion of the thought, and she is more likely to miss. Likewise, thinking about how things can go right will increase the chance she makes the shot. The difference between those two outcomes is not in the shooter’s level of skill, but in the way her mind is operating.
When it comes to discipleship, the way your mind functions is important. If the process of guilt and failure sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. The way out of the cycle is described in Romans 12:2, as quoted above. Through being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Rather than focusing on the avoidance of failure, your mind needs to be reoriented toward succeeding. We’ll talk more about what success looks like in the next two posts, but for now, go back to one area you have identified as not glorifying God, and define for yourself what success would be. What would it look like if you began to glorify God in that area of your life? And how will you go about doing so?