Summary: In this message I want to note briefly several (though not all) worldviews that confront Christians today.
For the past few weeks we have been studying Romans 12:1-2. In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul begins applying the doctrine that he has been teaching for the previous 11 chapters. Now, it is not that he has made no application in the previous 11 chapters; he has. However, as he begins chapter 12 he is, in a sense, saying, “In light of all that I have taught, how should we then live?”
So, let’s carefully examine each phrase in Romans 12:1-2.
Let’s read Romans 12:1-2:
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
The phrase that I would like to focus on today is Romans 12:2a: “Do not be conformed to this world.”
This phrase has two key words. This first key word is conformed, which means “to shape one’s behavior” or “to be conformed to a pattern or mold.” The second key word is world, which means “this present age” in contrast to “the age to come,” “people,” or “place.”
So, the phrase means, “Do not shape your behavior to this present age.”
James Montgomery Boice translates the phrase as, “Do not let the age in which you live force you into its scheme of thinking and behaving.”
Other Bible versions translate the phrase as follows:
• New International Version: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”
• New Century Version: “Do not be shaped by this world.”
• New International Reader’s Version: “Don’t live any longer the way this world lives.”
• The Message: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.”
• J. B. Phillips: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.”
Do you see what the Apostle Paul is driving at in this phrase? He is affirming that the world has its own way of thinking and doing things. But the Bible presents God’s way for Christians to think and do things. Paul is saying that Christians are not to think and act like the world.
Instead, he says, Christians are to “be transformed by the renewal of [their] mind[s].” What Paul is presenting in Romans 12:2 is the clash of “worldviews.”
The term “worldview” is the English translation of the German term Weltanschauung. Simply defined, a “worldview” is “the way a person looks at the world.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines “worldview” as “the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world,” or as “a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.”
Now, it is important to know that everyone has a worldview. Whether you realize it or not, a worldview is an integral part of your life, as well as the lives of everyone else.
Worldview matters. Clarifying worldviews is not an academic exercise, intellectual theory, or a philosophical concept. A worldview is an integral part of everyone’s life. It determines relationships. It determines successes and failure. It determines goals and motivations. It is at the root of all our thinking.