Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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. (Rom 12:1-2 NIV).
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he gets straight to the point that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. He then explains how the Gospel works in our salvation. As always, he has some practical application. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to be radically different from the world. But are we really radically different from the world today?
John Stott, known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist and communicator of Scripture, teaches that Christians have a double calling. First, we are called to live, serve and work in the world…to engage the world. Second, we are called to resist contamination from the world. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. In other words, we are not to conform to the world, but be transformed by Christ. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices because of God’s great mercy to us.
What does this look like for Christians living in our community today? Do we really look different? Are we resisting conforming to the pattern of this world? If we are honest, we would answer…no. We have fallen into the many temptations that press us into conformity with this world. One obvious area of this dilemma is our money and possessions.
We are blessed in this community with an abundance compared to many other parts of the world. We have economic choices and opportunities in this country that are the envy of the world. How do we as Christians respond to such abundance? Jesus warns us to be on guard to greed and that life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions (Lk 12: 15). But we do have abundance. We acquired this abundance through costly career choices and acquisition of debt. And now, we find ourselves not only in a dangerous financial position, but also in a dangerous spiritual position.
But there is hope to redirect our lives. First, we must repent of our sins and believe the Gospel that Jesus saves. Through Jesus Christ, we are freed from the bondage that conformity to this world demands. Second, as Christ transforms us by the renewing of our mind, our priorities change. We begin to understand that life does not consist of our abundance. The problem, however, is that our abundance is still with us and is usually financed with debt. This puts a burden on our new life that we must remove. But how do we remove this burden?
In future columns, I would like to share with you some effective tools to help Christians remove the financial burdens we have acquired and pursue the life to which Christ has called us. This does not necessarily require removing all your wealth and possessions, but will require that you see them differently. You might be familiar with these tools as they come primarily from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University (FPU). This course is offered throughout the west Houston and Katy area. I encourage you to investigate participating in a course.
If you are struggling with the burden of debt, or uncertainty with money, or a feeling of enslavement to your work or stuff, remember that Jesus is the solution. This is not a simplistic statement, but it is true. I struggle with you. I look forward to our pilgrimage together.
Jonathan Tucker is a certified public accountant serving individuals, businesses and not-for-profit organizations in the Katy and west Houston area. For more information, please visit www.jbtcpa.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-717-9056.