Our gathering this past Sunday took place at City Gate Lancaster instead of at The Community Room on King (our new space at 106 W. King Street) due to the fact that it isn't done being renovated. But nevertheless we kicked off our new series entitled Renovation, inspired by the renovation work that is being done to our new space. Below is the message from Sunday along with our discussion questions. I'd love to hear your comments, insights, questions, etc....
So today we start a 4 week series entitled Renovation. The theme of this series was inspired by 2 different things. First, the series was inspired by the renovation work that is currently being done at our new space, The Community Room on King. I realized that the metaphor of renovation not only works for renovating buildings and spaces, but it also works for the renovating work that needs to happen in our own lives. The renovation that is done through the ministry of the Trinity in our lives, when we are open to it.
The second inspiration was a book that I have on my Kindle app on my iPhone entitled Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. About the time that the renovation work started on the space, I was praying about the fall and what we should spend time unpacking together. I also pulled up my Kindle and started reading a book that I had almost finished. When I finished the book I went to the list of books that I had and saw Renovation of the Heart, and thought Renovation. That is perfect. Connects with our current situation as a community and also what I believe God wants to do in each of our lives. Renovate our lives to look more and more like Jesus. Tear down the old structure of our lives (our old thoughts, old ways of being, our old “man” if you will) and build up a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”)
So over the next few weeks we’ll be covering the Renovation of many different parts of our lives. Today we are talking about the Renovation of the Mind. Next week we’ll be talking about the Renovation of the Will focusing on how the will is based in our hearts. The third week of the series we’ll be talking about Renovation of the body. And the final week, the 5th Sunday in September, we’ll be working on renovating the world by having our 5th Sunday Day of Service.
One of the chapters in the book Renovation of the Heart is on renovating the mind and the author Dallas Willard says this about the mind and thoughts, “Thoughts are the place where we can and must begin to change.” He also said this about our mind and thoughts, “The single most important thing in our mind is our idea of God and the associated images.” So that is where we are starting, with our thoughts, mind, ideas and images and how the mind can be renovated and how we can obtain the mind of Christ. And to do that we’ll be looking at Romans 12:1-2.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.” According to the Apostle Paul, if you want your life to be renovated or transformed, than you need to have your mind renewed. You need to present your body as a living sacrifice, and as part of that living sacrifice you need your mind to be renovated. We need to realize that spiritual formation, being a living sacrifice, includes the renewing of our mind. In fact, the battle ground between conforming to the world and being transformed or renovated is within the mind of the believer. Christians must think differently. Because Proverbs 23:7 is true. “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” If we are to change, if the work of renovation can happen in our lives, and then through us, our thoughts, ideas, and our minds must change. But how?
In Romans 12:2 the Apostle Paul is contrasting two different realms, two different Kingdoms if you will. The Apostle Paul is contrasting the Kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of God. The contrast between the Kingdom of this world and its’ idea system and the Kingdom of God and its’ idea system is very sharp, because the fundamental assumptions (about who God is and who we are) are totally different. The two options that he is laying before us is either be conformed to the pattern of this world or be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
The word that the Apostle Paul uses for the word transform is the word metamorphoo, in which we get the word metamorphosis. The word metamorphoo means to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. In fact the same word is used for Jesus and his transfiguration. The work being done in our new space is the work of metamorphosis, it is being changed from an unusable space to a usable space. It is being renovated. It is being transformed. Our minds need to be renovated, transformed, renewed just like our space. This Spiritual formation (transformation, renovation) in Christ happens when we experience an interchange of our ideas and images with the ideas and images of Jesus. To renew our minds, to be renovated to be like Jesus, means that we need to progressively replace those destructive images and ideas in our minds with the ideas and images that filled the mind of Jesus himself. You see Spiritual Formation/Renovation must transform ideas. But how? How can our minds be renovated to be like the mind of Christ? How can we have the mind of Christ so that, as the Apostle Paul says, “then we’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is’?
I believe the way to do that is through the person and gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the only complete answer to the false and destructive images and ideas that control the life of those away from God. The Apostle Paul knew that we could only escape being conformed to a fallen humanity by receiving the mind of Christ himself. He knew that how we think, the ideas and images within our mind, are the primary focus of Satan’s efforts to defeat God’s purposes with and for humankind. And that to be transformed, to be renovated, to be changed, means that the work of renovation needs to start internal. And when the work of renovation is at the level of the mind, it will indeed work its way out from our mind, into our lives, and then out from our lives into the world and the people around us. You see all external change would be worthless if the mind is not change, renewed, renovated. If the mind isn’t actually changed, the external isn’t actually transformed or renovated. It’s like Jesus said (in my paraphrase) you are like whitewash tombs. White and clean on the outside, but inside you are full of dead mans bones. It’s like if you cleaned the outside windows of our space, put signage on the doors and windows, promoted the space on Facebook, Twitter, instagram, foursquare, etc… but left the inside of the space totally unfinished. What would be the point? If the mind isn’t renewed, transformed, renovated, than all the outside “renovation” isn’t truly renovated. Isn’t truly renewed. Isn’t truly transformed.
If you want to live a life for the King and the Kingdom of God you need to start with the work of renovating the mind. You need to be renovated from the inside out. Just like we are in the process of renovating the internal part of the space, before we worry about cleaning the windows and putting signage on the door. But how? How do you, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”? What are those things that we can do both individually and corporately that will help us renovate our minds? Transform them into the mind of Christ. Those are the questions that we will unpack together.
1. What thoughts, comments, insights, questions, push back, clarifications, etc.. do you have regarding the Scripture and the message? 2. What are some areas of your mind (ideas, images, thoughts, etc..) that need renovating? 3. How are you renovating your mind to be like the mind of Christ? What are some disciplines that you are engaged in that is helping you with the renovation work? 4. In what ways can our community help each other go about the work of renovating our minds to be like the mind of Christ? 5. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what are we going to do about it?