I love being a part of renewal, and this last Sunday was no exception. It was an incredible honor to be a part of each person’s journey into new life as they made their own decision to follow Jesus into a baptism of submission, sacrifice, and death. Baptism is a statement of new life – it is a declaration that we have been crucified with Christ and now have a new life in Christ through faith.
Now that one is baptized, is that it? Is the person done with their faith? Is the rest merely details?
After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit “drove Him” out into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days and was ultimately tempted by Satan himself. Some time into His ministry, Jesus was also led up onto a mountain with a few of His closest friends – there He was “transfigured before them.” Then, He wrestled in the garden with God to the point of sweating His own blood, and then He fulfilled His baptism of submission through His suffering and death.
As Jesus came up out of the water at His baptism, a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” As the fog on the mountain lifted, His friends heard the Father, “This is my Son, listen to Him.” As He walked out of the tomb, the Father gave Him a Name that is above every name along with all authority. Submission leads to renewal, transfiguration, and resurrection.
The apostle Paul makes the statement that we should expect a similar experience of renewal through the submission of our minds in worship, (Romans 12:1-2). God desires for us to undergo a spiritual metamorphosis through the renewal of our thinking – our worldview. There are three ways that we can engage this process.
First, offer your everyday, boring, exciting, and mundane lives to Him as an act of worship. This was demonstrated on Sunday through baptism. Both individuals on Sunday fully understood that they were surrendering their life in the body to Jesus, and had an expectation to be filled with His Spirit. This is a continual decision of our will to submit to His agenda and mission in the world – that we may be able to discern what His specific desire for our lives might be.
Second, in order to experience a transformation of our lives, we must renew our minds. We must bring our thinking into alignment with His. Sometimes this requires a change of behavior at the forefront, (sobriety leading to faith); sometimes it is changed thinking that leads to a changed behavior, (faith leading to sobriety). Our faith cannot be separated from our thinking, our will, and our desires – which some call the soul. Faith is key to changing our thinking, will, and desires, so that our soul may be transformed into the likeness or image of Jesus Himself.
Third, ask the Spirit to fill every breath with the very Breath of God. I can’t breathe under water – not naturally anyway! When a person is immersed in water at baptism, they are acknowledging that they cannot breathe without Jesus. Sure, we can strap on various manmade tools that help us cope with being under water, but until He calls us out of the darkness of the pit of death, we cannot truly live. As we come up out of the water, we take a Breath of life, the Spirit of life, or the Wind of life (synonymous). The first Adam was given life through the very Breath of God that hovered over all of creation but only filled His prized creation. The new Adam, Jesus, breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Spirit, Breath, Wind of God.” Recognize that this life is filled with gasps for the very Breath of God.
Ultimately, we have to bring our perception of the reality of this world into alignment with that of Christ. His perception of the world is eternal – therefore it is more real than our temporal perception of reality. This includes our perception of ourselves, our neighbor, our nation, and our enemies. Who does Jesus say I am? What does Jesus say about our enemies? What does Jesus say about creation? Am I in alignment with Christ?
Place Your Life Before God
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12 - The Message)
A Living Sacrifice
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12 - English Standard Version)