In Romans 12, we find the same exhortation from Paul that Jesus gives in Mark 1:15: rethink & respond. Except now, the mind and body are called into action in the context of worship and transformation:
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.” Paul (Romans 12:1-2)
Rethinking & responding…this is how new life in Jesus begins. This is also how it continues.
Rethinking & responding constitute the “How” of living well when Jesus is King. These two elements make up the ongoing process of discipleship. While they are examined separately below, there is actually a great deal of overlap. The renewal of our minds is necessarily intertwined with learning to offer our bodies – our daily habits and rhythms – to God in worship.
Rethinking. The goal here is to renew our thinking and sharpen our perception of reality as it’s revealed through the biblical narrative. This progressive renewal of our thinking and imagination fuels our discernment of God’s ongoing work in and around us.
Responding. Many Christians focus almost entirely on the mental aspects of their faith. Yet Jesus’ example with the first disciples is completely holistic. Before they had any idea of what they had gotten themselves into, the disciples began learning Jesus’ habits & rhythms of living. In fact, they set themselves apart as disciples not by their knowledge, but by their willingness to actually put one foot in front of the other, day after day, to follow Jesus. Along the way, they watched and learned how Jesus directed his physical body in an act of unceasing worship:
- They watched Jesus fast.
- They watched Jesus pray.
- They witnessed Jesus’ intimate knowledge of the scriptures.
- They watched Jesus practice silence and solitude unto the Father.
- They celebrated with Jesus.
- They served others together.
The first disciples learned to invest their time and energy – through their physical bodies – in the spiritual disciplines/practices modeled by Jesus. They learned to offer their bodies – their daily habits & rhythms – to God in worship. They learned to live differently in response to the circumstances in which they found themselves.
Through this same two-fold approach – rethinking & responding – we continue embracing Jesus’ call to repentance and God’s chosen method for our ongoing transformation. In adapting and adopting Jesus’ habits and rhythms of life, we create space to cooperate with God’s ongoing work in and around us. And by God’s grace, we become a new kind of people for whom bearing fruit (John 15) and going about the King’s business (Luke 19) is quite natural.
(Excerpt from Reimagining Discipleship)