“ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
Paul makes it clear from the outset of Romans 12 that conforming to the thinking of the world is not what we should be aiming for. The modern trend of the church seems to be to try to make the gospel more “acceptable” to the world. Less “controversial” in it’s outlook and message.
The so-called “progressive” movement advocates Jesus as only one of several or many routes to God. This is quite a dangerous theology as it is directly opposed to Jesus’ own teaching:
“Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.” John 14:6 Amplified)
We need to grow in our likeness to Christ each day we walk with Him. Anything other than growth is tantamount to death. We’re either dying or growing. There’s nothing in between. The saying “adapt or die” in the context of Christianity would be more accurately put as “Grow or die”. We need to remain grafted into the branches of Christ’s vine to receive the nutrient we need Spiritually to grow and produce fruit.
There’s nothing in between.
As we walk with Jesus, we need to grow towards Him. He said it Himself:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14 NKJV)
So we should look to the fruit we are producing. Those we encounter, do they see Jesus in us? Do our actions reflect the attitudes and behaviour of Christ and His teaching? Do we daily grow more like Him, and most importantly, are our prayers answered in a way that not only imitates Him in every way, but actually begins over time to exceed the works He performed? I’d be content for now if I could just see and experience the results of prayer Jesus saw in His life. Healing the sick and raising the dead would be something to behold as I grow – or seek to grow – more like Him. But the reality is I’m not there yet. I fall short every day – we all do. The key is to try to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us and allow ourselves to grow.
That’s not as easy as it sounds. We are a living sacrifice – or we should be – and the biggest problem we have to overcome is the selfish desire to conform to the World to save ourselves grief or to crawl off the altar completely and return to our pre-Christ behaviours in all areas. In the Middle-East right now there are Westerners being murdered simply for not being muslims. The international outcry has been one of shock and horror, but we need to remember as Christians that we are at war. As such we need to grow more like Jesus to fight spiritually against this onslaught. For some this will mean leaving their homes and even families behind. For others it may mean dying for Christ.
We must change ourselves to His image constantly. If we fail to do so, we are nothing more than stagnant water, unable to support real life. The stench of our lack of growth pollutes everything we seek to do.
Growing in likeness to Christ refers to becoming more like Him. Being prepared to live with constant ridicule or even threat of death for the sake of the Truth and not compromise the message we speak, walk and demonstrate for the sake of popular opinion, and even to die for if called to do so. Peter, Paul and the other Apostles were persecuted, imprisoned and murdered for simply demonstrating the Power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Every earthly power from the Sanhedrin to the Roman Empire sought to wipe out the early church. Communism in recent years has tried to do the same, with the same result – growth in Christian numbers and more people prepared to surrender everything they are and have for Christ’s sake.
How can we call ourselves Christians – imitators of Jesus Christ – if we are not really prepared to give up our opulent Western lifestyle, never mind our lives for the sake of Jesus? How dare we?
We need to cling to Him, to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen the graft into the Vine and make us more like Jesus every day. To strive to become through His strength, not our own, more Christ-like in the way we live and talk. To change our very existence on a daily basis to grow more like Him with every step.
Because spiritually as His followers we either grow or we die.