By: Joanna Harris
Joanna Harris is an author and blogger with a tremendous passion for God. You can contact Joanna here. For more on Joanna and her ministry, check out her website here. There you can also find links to her other blogs.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
My church recently went through Chip Ingram's book True Spirituality as we studied through Romans 12. Ingram's chapters on how to renew our minds were very thought provoking. He writes about how what we put into our minds – our mental and spiritual "diet" –determines our mental and spiritual health.
I can relate to this concept because I'm very careful about what I eat and what I put into my body. Though I indulge in a piece of cheesecake once in a while, my main diet consists of healthy, organic, home-cooked food. Because I've been eating this way for so many years, I don't even like "junk" food anymore.
Comparing my spiritual "diet" to these same standards is really helpful for me.
Is what I'm allowing into my mind "organic," as in God-created and approved, or is it man-made and corrupted?
Am I feeding myself from God's Word or just taking in spiritual "fast food" that other people have prepared?
Do I still enjoy mental or spiritual "junk" – things I know aren't spiritually healthy for me?
Recently I watched a program where an evangelist interviewed people on the street. Only two of the people stated that they were atheists. The rest claimed to be Christians. When he asked if they ever watched R-rated movies, without exception they all said yes.
I know some of the people only claimed to be Christians while others probably were genuine in their faith. Yet I was shocked and saddened that there was no apparent difference in their behavior. They all watched R-rated movies, all admitted to lying at times, along with other sinful habits the evangelist asked about.
How can this be?
Don't you think we, as Christ’s followers, should act so differently from the world that regardless of their theological understanding they wouldn't dare claim to be a Christian because they know it means a radically different lifestyle?
Paul wrote to the Roman Christians centuries ago not to be conformed to this world. He explained that the way not to be conformed is to renew our minds.
Our actions and behaviors are a result of the way we think. And the way we think is determined by what we take into our minds and hearts. We cannot feed on a diet of spiritual "junk" food and expect to have a healthy spiritual life.
If we eat the world's “food,” we will live like the world. And the more we consume a worldly “diet” the less appetite we’ll have for what is good and true. But the more we feed on God’s Word, the hungrier we’ll become for things that are pure and eternal. And when we eat a spiritually "organic" diet, consuming God's truth, we will live differently as the Holy Spirit works transformation in us.
Thankfully, our outward behavior doesn't affect our standing with God. We are declared righteous in Christ by God's lavish grace (Rom. 5:1-2). But our outward behavior does reveal our inner thoughts. That is what we are called to renew.
I know it isn't easy. We're bombarded by worldly messages and values 24/7. Renewing our minds requires evaluating what specific media we need to eliminate. It requires purposing to fill our minds with things that are noble and lovely (Phil. 4:8). And it requires assessing healthy limits of what we take in, because even with a good mental diet, sometimes just the sheer volume of information and images can overwhelm our spirits.
That's why sometimes I take a week and practice a spiritual fast/feast. I fast from TV and movies, and I spend extra time reading God's Word, listening to sermons online and just being quiet. When I do this, cutting out the noise from the world and soaking myself in God's truth, the results are amazing. I can think more clearly, hear God's voice more distinctly, and I have a greater peace and joy in my spirit.
I want to live like this every week, but the pressures of life often crowd in. Still, those seasons of fasting/feasting are always precious and help refocus me and prepare me for what's next.
I really do want to live differently than non-Christians do. I want to think differently. I want to be continually transformed and filled with more of Jesus' beautiful life. Maybe then those who only think they are Christians will see Jesus living in me and come to truly know Him – as the wonderful Savior, Healer and transforming God that He is.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers, but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever he does prospers.