By: Rev. Brandon Dirks
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world…” Romans 12:2a
The Western world is teaching a pattern of self-indulgence. Fill your lives with as many experiences as you can. Feel good about yourself. The motivation to lose weight is often so I LOOK BETTER or FEEL BETTER in my clothes. More money is spent on entertainment: sports, movies, music, etc., than on education. Comedian George Carlin sums up our materialism fetish that is undeniable, “That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff!” The world is also tricking us into thinking that we are the center of the world. Look at how politicians campaign against incumbents: “Is YOUR life better now than four years ago?” The pattern of this world is rooted in one thing – the pre-occupation, self-indulgent, self-centered, selfish nature of the SELF. YOU. ME.
Even churches are tempted in this sin (yes I call it a sin. The root of sin—pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath, etc.—is selfishness). Think about how the messages of many churches is rooted in helping YOU feel better. Even service to others is often talked about in terms of how good it will make YOU feel.
Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He NEVER said, “Love yourself” alone. In fact, he taught that disciples should, “deny themselves” if they want to follow Him.
John Calvin wrote that the remedy to fighting the patterns of the world lay in self-denial, “Show me a single person who does not believe in the Lord’s law of self-denial who can willingly practice a life of virtue!” Every successful athlete knows that if he or she wants to be successful in athletics, they must deny themselves. In the same way, fasting helps me overcome the pattern of this world so that I can be successful for the Kingdom!
To read Part 1, click here.
Tomorrow, Part 3: “…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2b