It was, and is, good to be back after a week away. I had a more than lovely time with my extended family, although I must say, I’m a bit past enjoying driving 1100km in four days 🙂
One of the things being away for a bit allows for is to look ahead and it seems that we are going to be staying with Romans until the Lectionary finishes with it. This is not a bad thing in any way. It does prevent us from spending some time in Exodus with Moses but I felt led to stay with Paul and his letter to the Romans.
This book has an interesting reputation for difficulty – theological density, exegetical pitfalls, etc. – that while not entirely undeserved is somewhat overstated. Yes, it is undeniably true that grasping the whole of the book is not easy but fortunately we are not required to have the whole thing mastered to find benefit from it.
Romans 12 begins with some very familiar verses that I have come to the conclusion are the victim of familiarity breeding poor understanding. One of the things I was hoping to address is an erroneous belief that Paul is telling us that we are responsible for our own transformation, i.e. the act of being transformed. This is not the case. I’m not even sure it is possible; to transform ourselves suggests that we have the material within us for transformation and I really don’t think we do. Rather I believe Paul is telling us that there is something we can do, namely renew our minds, which will lead to transformation. We renew our minds in many ways – reading Scripture, being in community, praying, talking to people, listening to and for the Holy Spirit, plus more – and it is God who works the transformation. We can recognize the reality of our own transformation when we are more able to discern the will of God for us and when we are exercising our spiritual gifts.
I am at some pains to make sure we don’t lose sight of, to borrow from Richard Rohr, the notion that we don’t think/believe ourselves into new ways of acting, we act our ways into new ways of thinking/believing.
As always, I’d love to hear if you think I got it right or not, let me know.
Knox Presbyterian Transformed? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Transformed? Presbyterian (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
PS Apropos of nothing really, I found it interesting that these two sermons, which are quite different and preached without a manuscript, are 18 seconds different in length.