Romans 12:1-8 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-- what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Reflection Who does not want what is “good and acceptable and perfect?” The question is, “Good and acceptable and perfect according to whom?” I believe this is the lynchpin question. In preparation for his visit to the Christian Church in Rome Paul hits the proverbial nail on the head when he counsels, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-- what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
What is good and acceptable and perfect is not determined by me or you or Republicans or Democrats or presidents or protesters or any one’s personal preferences or predilections. That would be conforming to the world. What is good and acceptable and perfect is synonymous with the will of God. How then are we to discern the will of God?
The Episcopal tradition finds authority in the confluence of Scripture, Tradition and Reason rooted in Experience. In Scripture the Word of God is revealed in the person of Jesus whose mission and ministry in the world instruct; love God, love yourself, love your neighbor, love your enemy. The bottom line is compassion. Tradition suggests we find the sacred in ordinary things; bread, wine, sharing meals, offering comfort, touching the suffering, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor and walking together. The bottom line is the holiness of all things. Reason tells us we are all of one substance, star dust, and therefore are interconnected and interdependent. Everything we say and do has consequences not only for us but for all people and creation which means life is not all about me. It is all about we. We must take responsibility for the common good. The bottom line is, by caring for others we are caring for ourselves.
Of course this requires a new kind of consciousness, a “renewing of our minds.” As Paul counsels, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” The level of consciousness out of which most of us act most of the time is dualistic, it is conformed to the vagaries of the world. It is all about winners and losers, personal gain and victory regardless of the cost to others. But this is not the mind that “discerns the will of God.”
The mind that discerns the will of God is non-dualistic. It holds the tension of opposites and seeks win-win solutions by carving out the middle way and remembering, “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”
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