Many people have knowledge, some have understanding, but few have wisdom. That thought keeps coming back to me as I survey the state of the world at large, our nation, specifically, and even those who are members of the Body of Christ.
I expect the world in general to lack wisdom—Jesus said that the road that leads to life is narrow and few find it. Our nation had a Biblical framework of thinking when it began, but most of that framework has now deteriorated. Those who are Christians often stop with the basics of knowledge. Some move forward into greater understanding; fewer are willing to apply their faith to every aspect of life: those who do are those who walk in wisdom.
The Christian life is not just that one-time prayer uttered at an altar or the completion of confirmation classes. That’s why the apostle Paul exhorted,
Let’s take each of those phrases separately. If we are conformed to the world, that means we live our lives the way everyone else does, ignorant of the path God has laid out for us. Rather, we are to be transformed. The word used here in the Greek is the same one used when Jesus was transfigured and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him.
We are to be transfigured, if you will.
This can happen only with a renewed mind. Old habits of thinking must be challenged and changed. When we submit to having our thoughts transformed/transfigured, we see the world differently. That begins with our first commitment to the Lord, but that is only the first step. This renewal is a lifelong process as our knowledge and understanding grow.
That spiritual growth then allows us to better grasp God’s perfect will.
In my profession as a historian, I’ve had to go through this renewal of the mind. I earned my doctorate, but in all those years of study, I didn’t have even one professor who could show me how what I was learning could be seen through the eyes of Christian faith.
Some people think history is cut and dried, that you simply state the facts and move on—no controversy there. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The field of historiography can be a minefield for Christians: so many different interpretations, so many “schools” of historical thought, so many and varied conclusions about people and events, causes and effects—for those who claim Christian faith but haven’t seriously opened their hearts to the transformation of a renewed mind, they might be tempted to fall into the trap that there is no real truth in the world—only all those different views. It might lead them into relativism, walking away from the absolutes that God had set down in His Word.
I had to consciously reinterpret what I was learning. I had to rethink everything in the light of Scripture. I had to earnestly desire the mind of Christ as it applies to what happened in the past. Further, I had to know what that meant for the future—how I was to walk, applying that understanding to my life and try to be wise.
We are all called to no longer be babies in our Christian life. We are to move on to maturity. But it takes practice. Discernment comes only through practice. Looking at our world and being able to see what is truly good and what is undeniably evil will set us apart from the way the world thinks.
It also may lead to attempts to shame us publicly for disagreeing with the immorality in our society. It may lead to loss of certain privileges and/or rights supposedly guaranteed by government. It may even lead to outright persecution eventually.
Will we be transformed enough to handle whatever comes our way? Will our minds be sufficiently renewed so that we will know the perfect will of God? Will we be mature enough to discern what is good and what is evil and not be led into deception?
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:13-16
We have a high calling. Are we ready to fulfill it?