AFReG Devotions 2021

14 December 2021

As we contemplate the God-centered values we espouse for Africa’s leadership as AFReG, we realize that change in all of us is imperative if these are to become a reality. In this series of devotions, we consider several topics under the general theme – “Changing Against the Tide” based on Romans 12:1-2. 
Introduction: The year is almost ending. It probably goes without saying that most people desire to end the year on a good note. For the child of God, it is an opportune time to reflect afresh on what really matters.
As AFReG, we made a very conscious choice during this season of our devotions, to recommit to our shared aspirations by re-espousing our cherished godly values and sustaining that quest through a fresh commitment to CHANGE: Transformation. But this is a spiritual task we have fully acknowledged as one that is undertaken in the context of “Changing Against the Tide” and rightly based on Romans 12:1-2. 
Thus far, we have explored various instructive aspects of CHANGE, clearly calling us to a renewed appreciation of what was appropriately indicated in the Series introductory notes as “the transformative power of the Gospel [of] grace through faith and [the] Holy Spirit’s enablement.”
This devotional, we focus on the theme: “Change: What it is and What is its progression.”
Every single time I read Paul’s call in Romans 12, particularly in verse 2, towards transformation by the renewal of the mind, I cannot help but link this important message with his words in 2 Corinthians 3:18 where he reminded his readers then, as follows: “…And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Discussion: At the risk of being overly simplistic, my reading of the transformation/change we seek is, among many aspects, exemplified in the following:

  1. The change we desire is a process, not an event. The process involves continuous spiritual formation (v18a).
  • The statement -“We are being transformed into his image…” (Christ Jesus) partially answers the question of what change is, in the context of our brief study.
  • In this case the Christian context proposes “spiritual formation” as the process at play. It is a process of spiritual growth and maturity in Christ. What a provision, especially considering the counterculture of the world that seeks to squeeze us into its mould.
    • The word “formation” in this respect is understood as being “an organic, life-long, and holistic process involving right thinking…right behaviours…and right feelings of individuals and communities.”
    • Therefore, biblically, it is the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ for the glory of God and for the sake of others.”
    • It is rightly called “spiritual formation” because it is founded upon the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. We will discuss this a little more in our concluding segment.
  1. The change we desire requires precision, to sustain focus (v18b).
  • Precision is “the quality, condition, or fact of being exact and accurate.”
  • Theologically, we would safely say the process remains, in all respects and by God’s design, Christocentric (v18b).
  • Thus, we are reminded in Hebrews 12:1-3, to maintain focus on Christ:
    • Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
  • We cannot afford to miss the mark here. Christ is the ultimate source of mind renewal!
  1. The change we desire rests on steady, incremental progression (v18c).
  • The phrase “with ever-increasing glory (also rendered “…from one degree of glory to another, in other Bible versions, calls attention to positively incremental activity–not static, but in constant progression. Motion, forward (heavenward) is assured. And, as in the words of John Maxwell, should we fail, we must “fail forward[s].”
  • This complements an earlier thought within the passage under consideration, that we, as believers, can benefit from a spiritually healthy disposition that continually contemplates the “…Lord’s glory” (v18b).
  1. The change we desire is Spirit-empowered (v18d).
  • The wider context of the passage under consideration clearly links to the Old Testament narrative that carries the story of Moses’ divine encounter with YHWH (Exodus 34:6-7).
  • We stand in awe of the same God who now, in redemptive revelatory essence, is presented to us in the New Testament in the second person of the Holy Trinity (Jesus Christ) with a compelling reference to the third person of the Holy Trinity (the Holy Spirit). It is by the Spirit that we are empowered in our quest for transformation. “…from the Lord (YHWH) who is the Spirit.”
Conclusion: A commentator on Romans 12:2 cautioned: “As goes the mind, so goes the life, this seems to be the dynamic with which Paul is working in this text. If a mind perceives as the world perceives, values as the world values, obsesses as the world obsesses, then the life informed by that mind will look like the world.”
Our quest is unequivocal – we seek Change that works directly against the above notion and we are determined by the power of the Holy Spirit, with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, [while we] are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Prayer: Lord help us to model unrelenting, Christocentric Transformation for the emerging generation and beyond.