Verse of the week: Romans 12: 1-2
“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.”
Just as Play-Doh can change shape just by the pressure that we put on it, so too are we formed by the world around us. However, the Bible calls us to be countercultural – "Do not be conformed to this world..." (Romans12:2). With all of the distractions around us, that can seem like an impossible task. The good news? By following Jesus, we can fundamentally change the way we live.
For those of you that missed out on Sunday, we've got you covered. Here are three truths of formation that Pastor Jason Ballard shared this week:
#1 – We are formed.
As much as everyone is created uniquely beautiful in their own way, we are also all shaped by our environments – whether that be the media we consume, your family, friends, workplace culture, and so much more. There's nothing inherently wrong with these things, but we should be aware that the time we spend in these settings can rewire how we view and value ourselves.
So much of what we value and prioritize has been formed. Has anyone ever asked you how you're doing, and you've replied, "Busy!" It's become a huge norm in society as we've come to live in a culture of hurry. But what happens if we slowed down? Well, then we'd have to get vulnerable and say how we're really doing. What if we've internalized that busy culture, and have come to believe that we're not loved if we're not busy and effective?
Think about it. How we view ourselves in relation to society, and others living in it, is formed, and it can make a major impact on our values and priorities.
#2 – What are we being formed into?
God desires that we experience fullness in life – that we know we are loved, that we can have unshakeable hope in the midst of darkness, that we can live with peace and purpose, and that we can see the beauty in others and ourselves.
Just look at some of the patterns of Jesus – He's merciful, pure of heart, a peacemaker, righteous, eternally minded, slow to anger, an agent of reconciliation, a truth teller, present, trusting of God, self-sacrificing, prayerful, not judgemental, not a slave to the judgement of others. He sees others with true value and treats them with dignity. Jesus is countercultural!
Over time, God wants to give us the best – to transform us to be more like Jesus. But the distractions of the world can get in the way. We have to ask ourselves – are we willing to renegotiate the relationship we have with these other inputs in our lives? Are we willing to turn down that music, switch off that movie, and redefine that unhealthy friendship?
Do we want to be formed by God, or by the world?
#3 – What does it look like to be intentional about our formation?
We've addressed that we are deeply impacted by the world around us, and recognized that God wants more for our lives. But how can we strive to be more like Jesus TODAY? Well, just like actions can shape our formation negatively, thankfully there are things we can do to form us to be more like Jesus.
There is an intentionality of living in sync with the Spirit. I'm sure we've all heard the term "good habits." Well, we're calling them formative practices. These are intentional day-to-day habits to remind us who God is, who He says we are, and how He wants us to live. It can be as simple as anchoring ourselves in His presence right when we wake up, such as praising Him right away instead of checking our phone, or as dynamic as joining a group, praying together, and holding each other accountable. In fact, that's what this church community is all about –doing life together – and being a part of a healthy church community is a great formative practice.
One last thing – why does any of this matter? Why should we care? This one's easy. It's because before we did anything, God showed us His love and grace. And when the motivation is the love of God, even when things get tough and we fall short, we can get back up. We can live in His definition of us, not the world's, and that's a pretty beautiful place.
Make sure to check out the full message below!