Romans 12:2a Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The 2019 NBA finals was a series to be remembered, especially for Canadian basketball fans. The Toronto Raptors had never won the championship and barely made it to this final as they needed a breathtaking Kawhi Leonard buzzer beater against the 76ers to even make it there. While exciting, most basketball experts didn’t think it really mattered because the winner of the Eastern conference, whether Toronto or Philadelphia, really didn’t have a chance against the perennial favorites, the Golden State Warriors. While Toronto surprisingly won Game 1, by Game 2 things were going pretty well to script as the Raptors could not silence sniper Steph Curry. Late in the game, coach Nick Nurse called a time out and suggested switching to a very unorthodox defense called the “box-and-one”, a configuration usually only seen in elementary school. Four players play zone defense aligning themselves in a box protecting the basket while the fifth player plays man-to-man defense on the primary scoring threat. The tactic stifled the Golden State offence. While Golden State still won game 2, Coach Nurse employed it again in games 4 and 6 and the Raptors eventually went on to win their first championship. Raptors star Kyle Lowry said: “Nothing Nick does surprises me on the court…That one kind of caught me off guard, but yeah, it was innovative”.
In Paul’s letter to the Roman church he wrote: “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 12:2). There is a lot in this verse, and it begins with “the pattern of this world”. What is the pattern of the world today? The oft heard refrain “You do you” probably sums up a great deal of that pattern. If what people are doing, at least on the surface, does not appear to hurt anyone else, then leave them be and you do your own thing. The Bible, and its many instructions and its warnings about the consequences of sin, is really outdated and intolerant. You will know if you are conforming to the pattern of this world because it is really quite easy; you just agree with everyone around you and say: “You do you”, and thereby everyone will consider you truly loving. But if you have chosen to be a true follower of Christ, you won’t “do you”, but rather you will do the will of your father (Matthew 7:21), and that requires being transformed by a change in your mind. We need to acknowledge that our natural mind is our sinful flesh and we need to desire the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Having the mind of Christ reminds me a bit of Coach Nurse’s defensive scheme. It was nothing complex, in fact it was criticized for being juvenile. If you choose to be a disciple of Christ, you will likely be criticized at some time for being foolish or simple by the “wise people” of the world. But take heart if that is you, for we are told to expect that as followers of Christ.
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1: 20-21)
A transformation of your mind may require you to be considered as a fool by the world, but you will be considered wise by the one who really matters. Don’t be a conformer, be a transformer.