Following Jesus sets us up for hard work, right? Study, prayer, meditation, intentional action, and just hunker down to get serious with God. But wait--I thought Jesus said the yoke of discipleship would be easy. What about the light burden? You don’t always have to read N.T. Wright. Today, I’m up for a child-like grasp of the scripture. Sometimes simple is better. Consider this famous transformational passage:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:1-2
I hereby declare this Lighten-Up Monday. Here are four invitations from this passage in Romans to enjoy his goodness by taking the easy yoke:
- Consider his mercies. What’s the use of climbing the mountain if you can’t take in the view? After the Apostle Paul has finished all the theological heavy-lifting of the first eleven chapters of Romans, he urges us to take a look at the mercies of God. Why not ask God to open your eyes to his mercies? They’re new every morning.
- Offer your body. He made our hands and called them good. They are holy when we set them aside for him. Sometimes it’s a good idea to simply hold our hands in front of the Almighty and say, “Here, use mine.”
- Become a non-conformist. Declare your independence from everyday patterns and change things up. Go crazy: order the Happy Meal. I know it’s trite, and clearly Paul’s point is much larger, but sometimes the simple act of breaking the patterns in our everyday lives can open us up to a new, Spirit-inspired perspective. You don’t have to channel your inner Will Ferrell, but there is something to be said for variety.
- Trade in your brain. The “renewing of your mind” doesn’t always have to come from deep study. Sometimes it can come from deep breathing. Make room for the Spirit: give your thoughts a rest. Have you ever noticed the phrase “be transformed” is passive?
This passage from Romans 12 has launched untold hard-working disciples--and seen eager disciples fall short of their best intentions. But no less an authority than Dallas Willard suggests we can be happy Students of Jesus: “The idea ‘no pain, no gain,’ well . . . that’s just something a football coach thought up.”
There. You can sweat it out tomorrow. Today? Let the wind of the Spirit mess up your hair.