Renewal

8 02 2011

This is the year of rest. Or so I named it and am seeking to live it. But to do that I first have to discover where real rest is found.

Until recently, words like “rest” and “renewal” tended to conjure images of long, lazy hours in a hammock on the beach or a cozy chair by the fire — both scenarios completed with a great book and tasty beverage, of course. But now I’m not so sure. God’s ways are, after all, higher than mine.

“I appeal to you therefore, 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.”

If Romans 12 stopped there, we might be tempted to despair. How to present our bodies? How to avoid conformation to this world? How to be transformed by renewal of the mind?

Ah, but it doesn’t stop there.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Wow. As Inigo Montoya would say, “Ees too much. Let me sum up.”

We find renewal in humility, in using our gifts for the common good, in loving and honoring others, in hope, patience, prayer, and generosity. We are transformed when we enter another’s joys and sorrows, when we live in harmony and peace (as far as it depends on us), when we leave vengeance to God and in the meantime minister to the needs of our enemies. When we overcome evil with good.

Sounds like rest takes a lot of work.

The Bible is full of mystery and paradox. Obedience the way to freedom. Service the way to greatness. Weakness the way to strength. Death the way to life. The sayings of Jesus are hard, yet accessible to the childlike and simple. Oh, how proudly we come, as though we had something to offer the One who created us for His own pleasure glory! Oh, how patiently He waits for us to come as dead men that He might resurrect us to new life.

“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” Come in community (bodies, plural; sacrifice, singular), selfish ambition set aside. Come empty, ready to be filled that we might be emptied again for Him.

Apparently a lazy afternoon on the beach isn’t the secret to renewal. Now I suppose the question I need to honestly answer is, do I really want it?

Do you?

This post is part of the “One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Renewal” hosted by Peter Pollock. To read more posts on this topic, please visit him at PeterPollock.com.


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9 responses

8 02 2011
Candy

Love this, Jeanne. Sometimes renewal comes in just a change of pace, a change of scenery. Of course, you can always take your Bible to the beach…
I LOVE Romans 12. Probably my favorite chapter.

8 02 2011
jeannedamoff

Hello, Candy of the Cute Little Black-Eyed Peas! Yes, you are right. (Of course you are.) Renewal can come many ways. I think this out-loud meditation today was more of a lecture to myself than anything else. If I don’t have rest and renewal, it’s probably because I’m looking for it in laziness, and it’s found in discipline. But sometimes discipline (discipleship) can be as simple as taking your Bible to the beach, no? Romans 12 wasn’t conquered in a day.

Love to you!

8 02 2011
katdish

100 points for the Princess Bride reference.

It really is a paradox, isn’t it? The world tells us to look out for Numero Uno, but it is when we forget ourselves when we find the greatest, most real contentment.

8 02 2011
jeannedamoff

Points! Hooray!

I’m sure you know that Princess Bride references apply to just about every life situation. “As you wish” and “Inconceivable” are as useful as “Yes” and “No.” And then there’s “It’s possible, Pig” (one of my favorites), and the ever-popular “You killed my father, prepare to die,” which comes in handy far more often than you might think.

And, yes. It’s a paradox. In matters of the cross, mostly dead just isn’t dead enough. Love you! See you (hopefully) soon!

8 02 2011
Anne Lang Bundy

I have recently discovered that I can only be a living sacrifice because the Lord sees me as unblemished, because He looks at me through the blood of His Son which covers me.

8 02 2011
jeannedamoff

Yes, Anne! It’s all mercy. Even the discovering is a gift from Him. What beautiful, amazing grace.

9 02 2011
flowingfaith

Renewal is a scary process, isn’t it? But I think being stuck is even scarier. Great post! Thank you! Blessings!

9 02 2011
jeannedamoff

You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

10 02 2011
Hazel I. Moon

Not just sympathy but empathy for others will bring us closer to the heart of God and His emotions about us. He longs to continually renew us as we draw close and fellowship with Him.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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