…And I don’t feel any different. But I should. It’s just another day, yes, but it’s also the perfect day to remind us that we can change, that things can change. That transformation is possible.
I have some new year’s resolutions. I’d like to develop a better taste for classical music and listen to less throwaway indie-band-of-the-week music. I’d like to write the remaining 12 chapters in my book and deliver the manuscript on time to the publisher in August. I’d like to befriend the owner of a local dry cleaner’s. I’d like to go to Disneyland more often and make friends with the kandi kids who all apparently hate me because of this notorious post.
But all of this is really incidental to my real, overarching resolution: to live more of a Romans 12 life.
My father recently convinced his local church in Lenexa, Kansas (several thousand members) to commit to memorizing Romans 12 over the course of 2009. Which I think is a great idea; I’m going to do it too.
Romans 12, I think, is one of the most important and concise summations of what exactly it means to live a Christ-like life. It’s full of important, enlivening, devastatingly counter intuitive challenges.
It calls us to be living sacrifices, to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, to bless those who persecute us, to live peaceably with all. It reminds us to not be haughty, but to associate with the lowly, and to never look at ourselves as wise or better than anyone else. It commands us to abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good, to actively try to outdo one another in showing honor. It’s all about aspiring to the highest standard of righteousness.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best part of the chapter, verse 2, where Paul writes the following: “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.”
Do not be conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Wow, there are no two sentences that better articulate what I hope I can be in 2009.
Honestly, I’m sick of conforming to the world. There’s only so much that it can offer. I’d much rather see my mind renewed and my self transformed as a result. I have a feeling that “the world” becomes infinitely more interesting and beautiful when seen through the eyes of a renewed mind. I’ve seen this in my life at many points, especially during the times when I’m focused on God, thinking clearly about what Jesus said, and desperately seeking the truths of his kingdom. When these things are going on, everything else comes into focus too. The air seems clearer, the ocean vaster. Radiohead sounds more sacred. Food tastes better. Love seems easier and more intuitive.
C.S. Lewis once said that he believed in Christianity like he believed that the sun had risen: not because he could see it, but because by it he could see everything else.
And I think that’s what I’m saying here. I think that there are infinite resolutions we all have, limitless hopes and dreams for the future. But it all falls apart or never comes together in the first place if we don’t prioritize that which binds and envelopes everything, that commitment to living sacrificially and self-effacingly, of loving good and hating evil, of being transformed by God rather than conformed to the world.
It’s living in light of the Gospel—the rising sun that makes everything visible—and taking it seriously as the central conviction of one’s life.
That’s my prayer for 2009.