"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Romans 12:2a NLT
In the art world there is a genre of art called appropriation art. It is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. Perhaps the best known of all appropriation artist was Andy Warhol who is, in part, famous for his Campbell's Soup Cans paintings from 1962. These now famous paintings hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I was able to see them a couple of years ago and I have to tell you I was not that impressed. Appropriation as a genre of art has been somewhat controversial. Because the artist takes something that already exists and embellishes upon it. They are creating something new out of something already existing. It takes talent to create something new and it arguably takes talent to create something new out of something that already exists.
This is a little like what the Apostle Paul is talking about in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Paul is telling the believers in Rome not to be like everyone else. Don't be a carbon copy of the world in which you live. Paul goes as far as to say that God can make something new out of something that already exists, namely YOU! The way Paul puts it, you can be transformed into a new person by letting God change the way you think. This is an amazing statement by Paul tucked into a greater teaching on the church, the body of Christ. Paul lets us know two very important things in the first part of this one verse. They are two things that I believe are important for us to consider.
First, Paul lets us know that God does not want our lives to look like the world around us. Our behavior and our customs should be different. The life of a follower of Jesus Christ should be very different than that of the regular person in any culture. Jesus taught this when he said to his disciples, "but among you it should be quite different ..." (Matthew 20:26) In this teaching Jesus is letting his followers know that they are not to seek position, power, or privilege. The world around them already does a good job of that. Instead, Jesus told them, "Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant." Jesus taught his followers to think differently. Jesus turned things around and called for them to live differently than the world around them.
Second, Paul lets us know that God does the transforming. I certainly would never argue that God used appropriation art in transforming us. Where I would draw the parallel is that God, the original Creator, takes what God has already created and transforms it into something new. How does God do this? God gives us a new way of thinking -- a transformation of our mind. As Paul wrote in Philippians 2, "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus." God transforms our lives by allowing us to have the mind of Christ. When we let God transform us we begin to see things as Christ would see them. God does this transformation in our life as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit's activity in our life.
God doesn't want any carbon copies of the world around us. God desires to have us be transformed into the fullness of our Created potential. This Sunday we will continue the message series entitled One Faithful Promise. The message will help us think about what it means to give ourselves to God in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew's and I can't wait to see you in church!