This morning there is a coincidence between the lesson from Romans that has been very important to me and my 35th anniversary Sunday.† So please permit me to be slightly autobiographical this morning.†
I know that I am an odd person.† I donít join groups or care what others think about me nearly at all.† I never really feel like I fit in because it is not a value to me.† Rather I have been fixated from an early age with the call in todayís lesson from Romans to be transformed by the renewing of your minds so you may discern what is the will of God.
I am not saying that I discern the will of God any better than the next person but that his has been an important goal: that my life might be conformed to that of my model, Jesus.
My mind is a scary place that needs to be renewed and replaced by the mind of Christ.† I really want to exchange my failed mind for the mind of Christ so this process is still ongoing, it has been for me a meaningful journey and it is the only chance I have to escape the sin of the world.
You can all see what I do each day which is a reflection of what I think up here in my mind so you may each judge for yourselves the effectiveness of my journey to this point.† But I think that you will all agree that it is very hard to fight against your nature and character and even harder to fight against what you have been acculturated to do by your church, family, teachers and friends.† I believe that only God has the power to change us.† God has removed every necessity to make excuses for ourselves and by replacing our faith with the faith of Christ he makes it possible for us to live lives filled with grace and forgiveness.† Once our guilt is broken we have our relationship with God restored. Estrangement from God and bondage to the opinions of the world are ended by grace and forgiveness. Our failed minds are replaced by the mind of Christ.
The marks of the failed mind are injustice, evil, excess, malice, envy, murder, strife, fraud, gossip, slander, boasting, disobedience and faithlessness.† The renewed mind is humble, sober, loving, genuine, hopeful, patient, hospitable, giving good for evil, associating with the lowly, always leaving revenge to God.† These are the marks of the renewed mind and this I know is an ongoing project for me.
You have for the last 35 years given me the opportunity to do the work of learning what the scriptures say and what the world means.† The witnesses of Jesus life death and resurrection have left for us in the New Testament their reports of how Jesusí life changed their way of looking at the world.† They shared with us in the New Testament how Jesus has set us free from this sinful world so that we might live in his kingdom by knowing him and by doing what he taught about life and love.
A couple of weeks ago we considered together the story of Peter walking on the water.† It was his confidence in Christ, not in himself that kept him above the waves.† There is no such thing as the power of positive thinking!† But the spirit of Christ can come through the conduit of faith and infuse our minds and slowly pry us loose from our conformity to the world and reform us to the ways of Jesus.† This is the renewal of our minds.
Jesus was really odd; he was never accepted anywhere and finally he was thrown out of the world on a cross.† But he would not go away.† He came back to show us this other way that he called his fatherís kingdom.†
Jesus sacrificed his life to save us.† Let us each now become living sacrifices as we follow along his way the best we can.†
I celebrate my oddness to the extent that it is a reflection of my renewed mind and apologize for it to the extent that is a reflection of my still failed mind.† And I thank all of you and God for giving me the opportunity for the last 35 years to be here where I feel like I belong more than any other place I have ever been.
1. †How is it possible for us to discern the will of God?
2. If our human minds are failed how is it possible to use them for any good?
3. Do you agree with me that anyone who follows Jesus will be judged to be odd?