“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

In the 1996 PBS documentary, “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires,” Robert Cringely interviewed Steve Jobs who called Microsoft’s products “third-rate products.” One of the more profound quotes from the interview comes when Jobs unpacks why he believes they are third-rate. He says of Microsoft, “They don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their product.” What is interesting about this quote is that Apple was bringing originality, which does consider the culture; and in this process, Apple has pioneered and created culture.

Jobs continues discussing Microsoft’s third-rate products saying, “Their products have no spirit to them. They have no spirit of enlightenment about them. They are very pedestrian, and the sad part is that a lot of customers don’t have a lot of that spirit either.” This brings up an interesting question to think about and consider: Do non-believers look at Christianity this same way?

There is so much truth in what Jobs is saying here. It’s easy to see why Apple has such appeal, and we can learn a lot from these statements. Apple has created culture and has become culture. Apple has not just brought culture into our products. Shouldn’t we be creating and transforming culture as Christians?

In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch addresses this idea that Christians are to be transformational agents of cultural change when he says, “It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. The only way to change culture is to create culture.” We must be about transformation, and we must be about creating culture. We are to be transformational agents in our culture and in the world.

In one of his leadership webinars, John Maxwell defined transformational leadership this way: “Transformational leadership influences people to think, speak and act in such a way that it makes a positive difference in their life and in the lives of others.” It is easy to see the Christian call to transformation in this definition of transformational leadership. As a man of deep faith, Maxwell is clearly picking up on the biblical call to purposeful living for the benefit of transforming others in this definition of transformational leadership.

Transformation is at the heart of Christianity, and it is at the heart of what Jesus teaches, what He models and what He does in Scripture. Paul also emphasized transformation in Romans 12:2 when he said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Here, Paul directs us away from conformity and toward transformation. What a mission!

In The Message version of Romans 12:2, it says, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” The essence of this passage is the reality that we all will be shaped by something, and how we are shaped will affect the world around us for better or for worse. We always should be mindful of how we are being shaped and how we are affecting the world.

Paul went on to say, “fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Rom. 12:2).

God desires to change us from the inside out. We are changed by learning what God wants from us and by responding to it in obedience to His will. While the culture and the sinful world around us attempts to stunt our growth and keep us in sinful patterns of immaturity, God desires for us to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ, bringing out the very best in us.

Seth Godin, in his blog post titled “You’ve Got the Ping, but They’ve Got No Pong,” says, “If you’re going to create something worth building, it’s going to be because there’s an infinite game going on, not merely blind obedience and tired conformity.” Godin’s quote captures the essence of what Paul was saying in Romans 12:2.

We are indeed being invited into God’s “infinite game” of transformational change as we join God in building His kingdom on this earth as it is in heaven. This is a worthy building project. This is worthy transformation that transcends blind obedience and tired conformity to the culture and to the world.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and explained the transformational work God was doing in them. He said, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

As we grow in our knowledge of the God of the universe, as our faces are unveiled to Him, we will see God’s glory and be transformed more and more into His glorious likeness. It is in this transformed state that we will begin to transform the world around us through His power and Spirit at work in us.

The Christian’s mission and high call is to this glorious transformation. We must realize, as Paul did, that transformation is at the heart of the gospel. We must recognize that transformed people transform people and transformed people transform the world for the glory of Jesus Christ.

A Prayer of Self-dedication: Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to You, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly Yours, utterly dedicated unto You; and then use us, we pray, as You will, and always to Your glory and the welfare of Your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, Online, p. 832, 833)

Crouch, Andy, Culture Making

The Message, Romans 12:1-2

The (Online) Book of Common Prayer

Paste magazine article

The Triumph of the Nerds,” (YouTube video)

Robbie Pruitt is a high school Bible teacher in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Robbie loves Jesus, youth ministry, the great outdoors, writing poetry and writing about theology, discipleship and leadership. He has been in ministry more than 17 years and graduated from Trinity School for Ministry with a Diploma in Christian Ministry and from Columbia International University with a B.A. in Bible and General Studies and a minor in Youth Ministry. Follow his blogs at RobbiePruitt.Blogspot.com and RobbiePruitt.com, connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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