“Spiritual formation is the process of being formed in the image of God for the sake of others.” – Robert Mulholland, Jr., Invitation to a Journey
We are all being formed by something. Our thoughts, feelings, opinions, perspectives, and desires are being shaped by the people and things around us. In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul challenges us to stop allowing the world to form us and to choose instead to be transformed by God’s Spirit.
As you read these challenging verses, pray that you will experience the power of surrendering to God’s work in your life. Trust that you will learn to recognize the effects of transformation as you relate to those around you in love. Allow God’s desire to renew your mind to bring you hope.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12: 1-21
Once you have found a comfortable place, spend a few moments in silence. Take a few deep breaths and feel your body begin to relax. When you feel your mind becoming quiet, offer a simple prayer to God, thanking him for his presence and inviting him to speak to you.
“In view of God’s mercy” – In what ways have you experienced God’s mercy? What would you like to express to God in response to his mercy? How does God’s mercy towards you inspire mercy towards others?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In what ways are you tempted to think about things like the people around you do? Ask the Spirit to show you any areas that you may not recognize. How did you learn these patterns? In what ways would you like to be conformed into God’s patterns of doing and thinking?
What is your favorite image for transformation – a butterfly, clay, a construction site? How would you describe the your transformation process to someone? How do you feel about the speed of your transformation? Make a list of all the things your mind does, processes and stores each day. Circle the things on your list that would benefit the most from the Spirit’s transforming work? Talk to God about your worries.
Leave this time trusting that the Spirit is at work forming you in ways you may not yet be aware of.