The World is Wrong

A secret to transformation

I had a profound transformational experience when I was just 18.  I was not interested in religion, but I was interested in what worked.  My father left us just when I was about to take the most important exams in my life.  Understandably, my mother fell apart.  In her lowest moments, as so many do, she turned to what I contemptuously thought was ‘religion’ but which turned out to be genuine ‘faith’.  I see the two as almost diametric opposites – poles apart.  ‘Religion’ for me is a system of beliefs that are often unquestioned.  As such, I see all political systems as religions.  ‘Faith’ I define as a living relationship with another.  When you have faith in a friend, there is an exchange, a dynamic.  Faith in God should be the same.

In my heart now, I know I blamed my mum for my dad leaving.  So I was not supportive during her darkest hours.  I was not horrible, terrible, or irresponsible – I just wasn’t ‘there’ for her.  She had gone to stay with a ‘Born-Again Christian’ auntie and came back a ‘happy-clappy’ charismatic Christian.  It is said that we should not put God to the test, but I put my mother to the test.  I wanted to see if this new her was for real.  She graciously put up with me being sullen and withdrawn for six months.  In the end, I had to admit something was working in her life.  She was transformed and I knew it.  So I gruffly asked if I could borrow some of the biographies she’d been trying to get me to read.

These were about Christians who’d found purpose and meaning in their life since believing in Jesus – and they claimed it was working for them.  It was clearly working for my mum.  I was curious – because my life wasn’t working.  I was hungry for something real – something substantial.

Over the coming weeks I myself became what is called a ‘Born Again Christian’ and suddenly ‘stuff’ began to make sense.  One of the most important things that made sense was the New Testament – it was so real to me whereas before it had just been a book – a closed book.  Matters came to a head when this one verse burned itself into my consciousness:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

That’s from Paul’s letter to the Roman Church, chapter 12, verse 2a.  Now here’s the funny bit.  I really don’t like Paul’s writings.  His letters suggest all manner of behaviours and attitudes that just don’t sit well with me in the 21st Century.  He’s got some strange ideas on women and slavery that I am not convinced are God’s ideas!  His letters seem like sensible advice to people seeking to live peacefully in the hostility and inequality of their culture and times.  But this verse burned.  This verse reverberated.  This was for real.  It was for me.  It still is.  It’s for you, too.

My favourite story in the Scriptures is of two disciples to whom Jesus “opened the scriptures” on the road to Emmaus.  Their description says, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  (Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24, verse 32.  Italics mine.)  That’s the sign – this stuff has to burn in your heart.  That’s the kind of heartburn you want more of!

If it ain’t broke…

I’m told, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  But this World is broken – even Paul agreed with that.  A wit once said, “History repeats itself; has to; no one listens!”  I agree – and we’re still not listening.  We still have inequality.  We still have a tiny percentage of the World’s population controlling the wealth and power structures than keep the rest ‘in their place’.  We still have “man’s inhumanity to man” broadcast across our media every day.  There is still sickness.  There is still disease.  There is still corruption.  There is still ignorance and lack of education.  There is still hunger.

The Kingdom of God has not come.

There is yet work to be done.

And this is why this verse is so important.

You see the ‘patterns’ that have got us to where we are today are the patterns in and of the World that will keep us where we are today.  They are the patterns that we see repeated time and time again in history if only we have eyes to see.  We need a better pattern.

What I love about this verse is that it holds both the problem and the solution within the span of its sentence.  It is a bridge between where we are now and where we want to be.  Looking at it again:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

There is hope of transformation – the Greek word we get ‘Metamorphosis’ from.  What was an egg can become a caterpillar; what was a caterpillar can become a pupa; what was a pupa can become the Imago (the Adult butterfly or moth).  But it’s a different pattern each time.

You may well know that the organs in the pupa become a kind of liquid soup that gets rearranged to form the ‘pattern’ that ‘transforms’ into the image of the adult butterfly.  That’s an amazing process of renewal.  Speaking for myself, I need nothing less amazing.  There are a lot of unuseful, out-dated, and plainly ‘wrong’ patterns in my thinking.  It’s not just the World that’s wrong – I’m wrong too.  But this verse holds out its promise: we can change ourselves one thought at a time; we can change the World one thought at a time.

Not every paradigm shift (the posh phrase for changing your way of seeing the World) has to be as major as realising the World is not flat, or thinking through the implications of evolution, discovering the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, or that the World doesn’t owe you anything.  Sometimes, just giving someone a second chance, the benefit of the doubt, or forgiving them is enough of a new pattern to bring about transformation.

So, what one thought would have to change today for your world to be transformed?

And when you realise what it is, please leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s