Exploring the Word | Spreaker

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not conformed, transformed (8.21)

Exodus 1:8-2:10
8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites. 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”

17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

1Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

5The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said.

7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Romans 12:1-8
1I 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. 2Do 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.

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Living sacrifice
Spiritual worship


What does it mean to be conformed to this world?

How does that look in your life?

What does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of your mind?

What kind of transformation might God be trying to work in you?

Pray for your partner during the week for God’s transforming power.

There are all kinds of forces in the world that shape us. The way we grow up, our family influences, the people we work and study with, all have an impact on who we are and what we value.

Some of the forces that shape us are obvious and others are much more subtle. Advertising, for instance, is obviously designed to get us to buy whatever is being advertised. The more important and subtle result of the constant stream of advertising is to make us want things in general.

It doesn’t make any difference for our souls if we buy Coke or Pepsi, but it does matter that we crave bottled sugar so much that we forget God’s gift of clean water. It does matter that we spend so much of our time and effort pursuing things that God and our neighbor get only leftovers of our time, energy and money. It does matter that we fret about having enough when eleven million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation.

There are forces in the world that want us to want things for ourselves and to fear other people. There are forces in the world that are happy about conflict and division. There are forces in our world that want us to believe that our rights, our possessions, our comfort, our desires are the most important things.

God calls us not to be conformed to this world. God calls us not to take the shape of the warped, deformed values around us. God calls us to stand apart, to be different, to take a different form, a different shape. God calls us to be transformed, to take a new shape.

Actually, it’s not such a new shape. In the beginning God made us in God’s image: in the image of love, community, compassion and mercy. Through greed and fear and sin we’ve been bent out of shape. God calls us back to our original shape through Jesus and his cross-shaped love. God calls us to be transformed; to be made new.

That transformation is about a change of mind and heart, a change God brings about inside us when we give up control. In that transformation we learn to discern and discover God’s will for our lives and for the world. It’s not usually an immediate change, but it takes place through prayer and community and ministry. We’re transformed by following God, especially when that’s not the easy thing to do.

Shiprah and Puah give us a great example of not being conformed to the world. Pharaoh gave them a direct order to help kill the Israelites. They could have been conformed to a society that taught them that Israel was a threat, that those foreigners living among them were dangerous and sub-human. They had probably been exposed to that message all their lives in different ways and now that message was reinforced by the command of the most powerful man in the world.

But they were not conformed. Instead of being afraid of Pharaoh, they trusted God. Instead of fitting into hatred, they were transformed by courage into instruments of salvation. They were renewed in love and a small corner of the world was changed for the better.

How is God trying to change you? How will the love of Christ renew your mind?

Thanks be to God.

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