Jewels of the Word
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)
The pattern of this world is to achieve more, to do more, to be more successful. The pattern of this world is to be self-reliant. The pattern of this world is to be yourself and love yourself. It is to look inside yourself for answers. That is a whole lot of pressure on you. We see the evidence of this pressure all around us with the way people behave and the level of anxiety that we feel. Similar to parenting advice which says that behavior is communicating a need, our determination to be self-reliant leads to despair, anger, resentment, and self-pity--all indicating a deeper need.
In the past I have read this scripture which says to "not conform...but be transformed" as a law and basically as an attitude adjustment. Just "transform" your mind to think of better, more positive things and then you will know God's will. But it does not say to "transform your mind" is says to "be transformed." It is not an action but something received. That means that it does not come about by doing more or trying harder or looking inside yourself. It is coming from the outside. Who has the power to transform? Who has the power to renew? Friends or family may give good advice or comfort at times, but they do not have the power to transform who you are.
Picture a young child being loud, obnoxious, and using terrible behavior to get attention. The mom is annoyed and stressed by the constant noise, and if she is honest, at this moment, she does not like her child very much. She knows she is supposed to love him, but how can she when he is being so unlovable? She considers sternly correcting, yelling, or coming up with a strict consequence. But for some reason this time, she decides to throw out her arms and catch the child as he loudly speeds by, and she pulls him firmly into her chest, and she says, "You are such a good boy. I love you." The child melts, the tension in his body releases, and then he squeezes her back. He knows without a doubt that he is a good boy and he is loved. He becomes what she tells him he is.
When we are at our worst, trying our best to conform to this world, God transforms us into who he says we are. He says, "You are a good child. I love you." That is not pretend or made up. Jesus took our place for the bad, and so we are good. Paul says in Romans 6:6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” That is imputed righteousness, and it is real--we are not merely wearing “good people” masks, we really are good in the eyes of God. When we know that truth, that we are fully loved by him in Christ, we are renewed once again to see him and see his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Cor. 5:16-18)