Wednesday 24th Jul 2024Lighthouse

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We are continuing our series on What makes Christ's followers different - non-conformist 


There is meant to be a difference between those following Christ and the world around us.  The difference we know is by the mercies and the grace of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. God’s gift of the new creation means that we are called to be in the world but not of it.


The apostle Paul wrote 


“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 NRSV


Last week we spoke about being holy and acceptable 


We spoke about holiness, and being separate 


but at the end of this verse, it speaks about discerning the will of God. Being able to discern is key to the spiritual walk in a world of so many opinions we have to hold to the truth.


Discernment is one of the gifts we have from the Spirit. Discernment is the filter for what is good acceptable and perfect. The word perfect we find here is the word tellios which here is translated as perfect, complete or mature. It speaks of completeness or wholeness this is God’s for us that we mature in Christ. Many today in our culture are broken especially emotionally and mentally and growing in Christ, renewing our mind and having mature discernment is the key. 


Paul tells the Colossians 


Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this, I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.”

Colossians 1:27-29 NRSV


This week I want to talk about not conforming to the world or this age but being transformed or metamorphosed by the renewing of our minds we often understand this as a process of maturing. 


This idea of being conformed is likened to an echo of the world, to have one's mind and character fashioned after and moulded by this age we live in. This transformation of mind brings the spiritual discernment that we need to stand in the will of God for our lives.


Why is it important to filter the influences we subject ourselves to? To have strength of character is important to develop resilience and a strong healthy mindset. 


How do we filter the things that we see and hear? Does this agree with the word of God?, does this match God’s purposes? Does this line up with the work of the Holy Spirit? Some things are obvious at least to most people. But there are forces of deception that will aim to undermine what God has said.


Often subtle Repeated exposure to things will eventually influence us for the good or bad. If we allow thoughts to build strongholds that go against the knowledge of God.


The media we consume daily has an impact on our thinking, behaviour, and emotions. A healthy choice is to discern what information we consume, e, much of which is biased and worldly. Even if you don't have social media the mainstream media needs filtering too. If we have fallen into a pattern of regularly watching or listening to the news, the majority of what we are consuming is likely to be far more negative than positive.


And while staying up to date on local and national news is important, experts say over-consumption of the news can take a toll on your physical, emotional, and mental health. A constant stream of sensational reporting, whether you are exposed actively or passively, can elevate stress levels and trigger symptoms like anxiety trouble sleeping and low-level stress. 


According to Mental Health UK, there are significant problems with becoming consumed with fear, an example is how many especially young people live with climate anxiety.


In simple terms, climate anxiety is the sense of fear, worry, or tension linked to climate change. Young people stand to significantly and disproportionally shoulder the burden of climate change, however, making it more common in young people. 


Recent survey Surveying 10,000 young people aged 16-25 years in 10 countries across the world, the Lancet found that 


59% were very or extremely worried about climate change, with 


84% are at least moderately worried. 


Over 50% mentioned feeling anxious, powerless, helpless, and sad, while 


45% said their feelings about climate change “negatively affected their daily life and functioning.” 


The number one recommendation is that If seeing or hearing news of natural disasters triggers your climate anxiety, it’s important to limit your news consumption and avoid “doom-scrolling.” switching to positive news, and of course taking action on the things you can change.


Whilst it has a useful purpose it is not beyond imagination that social media has ruined the mental health of a generation. We don't believe for a moment that big corporations have an agenda.


If we are influenced negatively by so many things in this world it's not long before our lives echo those around us.


Of course, some influences are more negatively impacting on us than others. 


Influencers are common especially on social media, watched by millions of people telling us what to buy what to wear and what to believe.


Many influence us, for good or for bad, and we need discernment to be our filter, which is tricky with algorithms that set out to constantly programme us. 


As we grow in our faith and our Spiritual Maturity we become secure in who we are in Christ which limits the influence other things have to sway us. However, even the most resilient person can be warned down by the constant barrage of negative thoughts and feelings.


So we grow up in Christ, Scripture says in Ephesians 4.14


“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.


Paul continues in more detail what he means by the world or this present age (v.17)


Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, and alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:14, 17-24 NRSV


The answer Paul writes is to be Renewed in our minds and Clothed in the new self and no longer live as the gentile do with futile minds.


As Christ's followers, we are called to be a positive force for good news. The gospel is the good news of Christ’s resurrection and we are called to make disciples of all peoples. 


Influence is a form of leadership in which we can become a channel God uses to help bring powerful and lasting change to people who need it. 


“True lasting change happens on the inside but we can aid in our development by having good examples to follow.


Children learn by watching and even as adults we often mirror others' behaviour. 


Paul says to the church in Corinth we see dimly now like in a mirror but when we see him will be like him. He goes on to Moses shone with glory from being in God's presence but it was fading away.  We can gaze into God's presence with no veil and shine like the stars he made us to be.


where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. 


This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NCV


To Timothy, Paul said follow me as I follow Christ use my example and my teachings. 


“Follow the pattern of true teachings that you heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14 NCV


When we are young in our faith we often need those examples.


In Psalms 71 we read


LORD, you are my hope. LORD, I have trusted you since I was young. I have depended on you since I was born; you helped me even on the day of my birth. I will always praise you. 


I am an example to many people because you are my strong protection. I am always praising you; all day long I honour you.”

Psalms 71:5-8 NCV


God puts in our lives Good Leadership and they help us meet our need to grow in faith, hope, and love, by showing us that we can have faith in God, hope for the future, and rely on God’s love for us.


God calls us in Christ to come into maturity, not tossed to and fro by every new wind of doctrine, but carefully studied to show yourself approved.




“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 

Ephesians 4:1-2, 11-16 NRSV


In conclusion, Paul reminds us Not to fashion ourselves after the current wicked age, but to renew our minds to think of the future age.


Transformed by metamorphic transformational permanent change into the likeness of Christ.


This transformation of mind brings the spiritual discernment that we need to stand in the will of God for our lives.


it is important to filter the influences we subject ourselves to and to have strength of character to develop resilience and a strong healthy mindset. 


There is meant to be a difference between those following Christ and the world around us.  The difference we know is by the grace of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. God’s gift of the new creation me as we are called to be in the world but not of it.


The grace of God enables us to not conform to the world. By His Holy Spirit, our minds are renewed and we are transformed. We are no longer under the sway of evil but liberated to live as a living sacrifice.

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