A fishy tale
One morning, two young fish were swimming along together. An older fish swam the other way. “Morning boys, how’s the water today?” he asked. It was not until 30 minutes later that one of the youngsters turned to the other and say “what is water?”
The point of this strange story is that we are surrounded by ways of living but we don’t see them. More seriously, we are being trained into wrong ways of living but we don’t notice it. Paul tells us we can be trained or influenced or conformed by the world
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. Romans 12:1,2
The world is the things around us that influence us to think God can’t be trusted and his ways are not good for us. That happens through adverts, songs, internet, films and in the way people around us party, use their money and train their children. An example is the world’s pattern for shopping.
THE PATTERN OF THE WORLD: AN EXAMPLE
The adverts tell us there is something missing in our lives. They tell us the answer to that gap is to buy something. Perhaps you have been influenced by this to buy things that you could afford?
We may go with others to the shops for a ‘trip out’. But shopping is not something that helps us grow together. Look at a group at the shops – when another person joins the group, everyone eyes up their fashion sense – they observe the shoes and handbags and mobile phone.
Shopping the world’s way teaches us to overvalue things (we enjoy them for making us special in the eyes of others, rather than just using the things).
The world tells us that buying things will make us feel better. But the product’s benefit quickly wears off. When we next feel low, we have learned that a shopping trip will cheer us up. So off we go and buy more.
Shopping the world’s way also teaches us to undervalue things (we throw them away to quickly because we think we need an ‘up-grade’).
When we go to the shops or shop on-line, we might be like the young fish in the story: We may not appreciate how we are being conformed or trained to fit in with the pattern of this world.
This view of shopping is just one of many ways the world influences us. The good news is that God uses church to give us a true outlook.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
GOD USES CHURCH TO TRAIN US
If you are a Christian, God has already given you a renewed mind – a new way of looking at life. But we need to be trained or conformed to fit with that. Church is one way God does that.
The things we do in a church meeting follow a particular order;
- We meet one another, welcoming one another as people who need help just like we need God’s
- We start our meeting with God’s word, remembering who he
- We admit our sin to God and remember his kindness in
- We sing, using songs that will help us hear God’s truth, that will train us to fit the right emotions with that truth and that we can sing together, as one church
- We hear of church family events and ask God to be at Our prayers are not ‘me’ and ‘I’ but ‘we’ and ‘us’ – we are learning to be a family.
- We hear God’s word read and We trust the Holy Spirit will turn the words of the teacher into the voice of God that his children hear.
- We finish our time with words of scripture, spoken by all of us, to each other, encouraging each other to live as Christians in all of life, not just on a
- We continue to meet over coffee, trying to speak helpfully to each other.
- Think again about Make a list before you shop so you don’t buy things you don’t need. Teach your children to spot the false lies in adverts. What ways is the world most effective in influencing you?
- Think again about Don’t come expecting to be entertained, come to join in. Don’t act like a customer, expecting to get a good service, come to join in. Don’t expect it to be easy and soothing, training can be hard work, ask an athlete.