I work in the mental health field, particularly with students with autism. I have stories left and right of kids doing crazy things. Obviously, their behavior in large part is due to their disability. I have one student who has a rough home life. His mom is overweight, has diabetes, and slew of other health concerns. This particular student often feigns symptoms of her ailments to escape work. Last Thursday he convinced a number of our staff through tears that at his doctor’s appointment he had contracted type II diabetes. Talking to his grandfather the next day, I learned that this was not true. His grandson has a tough time distinguishing between fact and fiction and had somehow mentally diagnosed himself with a disease.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that how people think of themselves informs their behavior. From my student’s hypochondriac fixation to my own belief in my works as sufficient, beliefs result in behavior.
Paul outlines this clearly:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (12:2a)”
Who we are is a result of our thoughts. To change who we are, we need the divine transformation of God to help us change the way we think of ourselves.
This sets up the rest of Romans 12. The most direct result is:
“Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (12:2b)”
From there, Paul has further precedence for the marks of true Christian behavior, gifts and roles in the Church, and treatment towards others outside of the Church. He would have no basis for any of the charges he gives if he didn’t first clarify our identity:
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (12:4-5)”
We are one body. A part of Christ’s body. And this is how we should act. Not only that, but our actions have implications for each other. Our action or inaction has an effect on the other members.
My hope and dream is to see Romans 12 carried out in the local church and Church as a whole. What a beautiful picture:
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.