“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
I will never forget how in the spring of 2020, I was walking on a city sidewalk and two people who were walking toward me stepped off the curb and continued walking in the middle of the street to get away from me. It was practically understandable at the time. But who could have imagined that for many, this human distancing would be the “new normal”? Intimate friends who had once been “inseparable” have not seen each other in person for almost two years. Not that it is impossible to make some modified accommodations to see each other in person – safely distanced, with appropriate protocols. Many have been successfully doing just that. (“Where there is a will, there is a way.”) But sadly, many now say that they prefer the convenience of a virtual meet-up, and sadder still, some have admitted to me that, psychologically, due to fear, they are having a difficult time returning to even a trace of the “old normal.” In fact, they say that they don’t even know how to begin.
The world has drastically changed in recent years and with that has come a marked change in many people. Of course, change is inevitable. Most of us have heard the cliché, “The only constant in life is change.” Science is accustomed to asking, “What is causing the change to happen?” But from a Biblical/spiritual perspective, we are compelled to ask, “Who is causing the change to happen?” Is it the Holy Spirit of God, or is it the one whom the Bible calls “the god of this world” who blinds the mind? (2 Corinthians 4:4)
The Holy Spirit changes a human soul by changing the heart. For example, to prepare Saul to become king of Israel, God told him, “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you…and you will be changed into a different person.” Then we are told that “God changed his heart.” (Cf. 1 Samuel 10:6, 9)
Just like the Living God does, the god of this world also changes a person into someone different. But rather than changing her or him into the uniquely created person whom the Living God intended, this god changes him or her into a person who loses the gift of individuality – and thus his or her personal freedom and liberty. God’s Word tells us that, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free” (Galatians 5:1). Therefore, the Holy Spirit transforms and renews the mind of a human being into the individual he or she was created to be. Conversely, the god of this world only conforms (bends and twists) the mind of the person to the world system – a system that only serves and perpetuates itself.
In 1978, Bob Seger recorded a song entitled, “I Feel Like a Number.” With every passing year, the god of this world – who could also be called “the god of artificial intelligence” – will make you feel increasingly like a number. Conversely, the living, breathing Creator of the universe (whose holy Name is not “the Universe”!) – the God of real intelligence – desires His love to penetrate your heart so that you will feel more and more like a beloved son or daughter – like a real human being.
Yes, the world has changed drastically in recent years and with that has come a drastic change in many people – alas, even in believers who have grown cold and apathetic toward fellowship. But our sincere prayer is that while tragic events have changed the world, may they not negatively change you. Look back on who you were two years ago and ask yourself these questions: “Have I changed in such a way as to exercise more faith or have I changed in such a way as to experience more fear? If I have changed, who and what has changed me?” May it be the Spirit of the Lord who changes us day by day, “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The eternal God does not change: “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Neither does Christ Jesus change: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
But because people do change:
“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.” Romans 12:1-2