And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1–2 begins the final section of the letter. Paul shifts his focus from instruction to exhortation, from what we might call the indicative—what God has done for us—to the imperative—what we are to do in response.43 Moo explains, “If we take to heart the truth of the gospel that [the apostle] has presented, we will have a transformed worldview that cannot but affect our lives in uncounted ways. Paul has made this clear already in chapter 6, where he shows how our union with Christ in his death and resurrection leads to our ‘walking in newness of life’ (v. 4).”44 Now in this final section, Paul urges Christians to manifest the power of the gospel in specific areas of day-to-day life.
Romans 12:1–2 is one of the most well-known texts of Scripture. Its familiarity stems, I believe, from its perceived theological importance. This text is commonly viewed as having great import for the Christian’s spiritual life, and thus it is one of the passages most often memorized by children in Sunday School and teenagers in the youth group.
Read the series so far.
In Romans 12, Paul speaks of God’s expecation of surrender. That expectation of my surrender to God is based on two things: knowledge of His Person and acknowledgement of His work on my behalf.
In light of the incredible work of God in saving men that will believe, and in light of the astounding Mastery of God over all, He expects that I will surrender to His plan and not try to “write a better plan” for my life.
Look again at Romans 12:1 and read it carefully with me as I translate each word from the original language with some additional fullness:
Therefore: because of all that I have told you about God’s magnificent person and His wondrous saving work for you.
I urge you brethren, I come beside you, as a paraklete—“one brought alongside to brace.”. Don’t forget that he addressed them as brothers—a term Paul uses of other believers. The call to inspection will not work for someone who does not know Jesus personally already.
The massive dome at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome rises nearly four hundred fifty feet in the air, with its interior is nearly one hundred forty feet wide. It is the highest dome you will ever see, but not the largest one. The dome of the Pantheon built in the second century is a few feet wider and Brunelleschi’s massive dome on the Duomo in Florence is a few feet wider still.
To me, what is striking about the dome found in St. Peter’s is that you can make out, if you look ever so closely, the shape of people walking around the catwalk who dared to take the elevator up to the dome for what I am told is a fantastic view of Rome. They look like tiny specks and perhaps ants, but they are people at a great distance above your head if you are within the massive church. Those who know me well, know that I enjoy watching from below, because—though some would call me afraid of heights—I like to believe I merely have a “more healthy respect for gravity.”
What I can easily imagine is that the view from above is a different view.