Anytime we try to make ourselves new through sheer human effort and willpower, we tend to fall short and end up disappointed. Let’s explore the idea of renewing ourselves by looking at the oldness and the newness of our lives and reflecting on how we remain new in Christ.
I remember the day I went to get my driver’s license. I was a proud teenager with a face full of MAC make-up, razor-thin eyebrows arched to the heavens, and perfectly glossed pout lips unveiling a mouth full of braces. I was ready for date night…or the DMV. Either one really. I was super excited and tremendously confident, on a mission to achieve a goal of mine: freedom. Logistical freedom. The freedom to go where I please and do what I want, without the confines of geographical restrictions and parental rejections to whatever I wanted to do.
I was ready for a new adventure.
I whizzed through my test, more concerned with the photo op than a passing grade. I couldn’t have been more excited to be official. My wide, silver-laced smile beamed with joy, as a new sense of entitlement and maturity sank in.
Whenever it was time to renew my license, I would send in the appropriate information and pay the fee, but not once did I consider taking a new picture. Throughout my 20s I figured I look the same, sans braces. I never saw the need to renew the license in its entirety because I was essentially the same person as the one displayed on the card. It was still me. Maybe a little older. Maybe less hardware. But basically the same. Nothing new to add or change. Just me.
The Old Me
Born into a state of sin, we become comfortable with it. We make excuses for it. We even celebrate it. Sin becomes something we’re proud of, and is the identification card we carry around to notify the authorities of who we are. We rarely deviate from it, though we may find it repulsive for others to engage in. Sin is the world of no change, the steady industry of perpetual sameness, without the understanding of consequence for one’s own actions.
I wanted to keep that license, even when I moved to a different state because I didn’t feel the need to change. I wanted to stay essentially the same. I had no desire whatsoever to update the photo or to get a new license altogether because I saw no purpose in making that change.
I just wanted to keep doing me.
Isn’t that true of how the flesh reacts? It just wants to keep doing what it’s been doing, right? Without any awareness of the ramifications it faces. I desire consistency in its corruption. It longs for stability in its shortcomings and seeks opportunity for immorality.
The flesh wants what it wants, without any rhyme or reason, without any regard for God.
Following the Flesh
The flesh is out for one thing…itself. It’s on a mission to fill this insatiable craving for identity and importance. This desire is the drive from which all impulsive thoughts become actions and eventually lifestyles. This ambition to have more and do more and be more creates a volatile environment ripe for deception, infatuation, and exploitation.
Basically, the issue with following the desires housed in the flesh is that we find our identity in the appetite and subsequent achievements of its scandalous adventures. We end up enslaved to the perpetual pursuit of the next great identity marker and drift through a life of hasty humanity.
What we need, what we require is the complete filling of the bottomless abyss that is our soul’s yearning for love and significance.
We need a new way of thinking, a new way of doing, and a new way of being.
Renew Means Rewire
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 CSB
If I want to think differently about who I am and how I determine my significance, I must be willing to rewire my brain.
We have fallen into some serious routines that are counterproductive to the thinking we should be doing. I often find myself reminiscing about the past, specifically about the way I was B.C., before Christ. Trust me when I say there’s nothing worth backtracking from the way I reacted and behaved in those long-gone days. And yet, I find myself replaying the good old days over and over again. That past track loops in my mind and the only remedy for these daydreams is to press eject on the memories and rewire my mind to think about the things of God.
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy – dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 CSB
For me, it’s nearly impossible to not think. My mind is constantly wandering, pondering, and analyzing. Only when I begin to take a conscious inventory of my thinking do I realize that I’m not thinking straight.
If we tune into the radio station of our mind, we may not like the music we hear playing. Our best option is to change the station to hear the chart-toppers from Philippians 4:8.
We need positive thinking, the kind of thinking that is focused on the beauty and glory and majesty of God. Not in a psychological, self-improvement, do 20 minutes of yoga and deep breathing daily, and embark on the powerful journey of mindfulness sort of way.
We need to think with God.
Thinking with God compels us to consider what He believes about us, about others, and about our surroundings. Thinking with God is having the same mind as Christ, for He was our example of what it means to be human and divine at the same time.
To think with God and to have the mind of Christ, we must rewire our minds, reprogramming our brains to drive out the cultural norms, the trends of the week, and the must-haves that the Joneses pressure us to keep up with. We have to reroute our minds from developing depressive and oppressive views of ourselves and judgmental and offensive views of others. We need to recondition our attitudes and mindsets to believe the best in ourselves, our neighbors, and our God.
We need to be completely rewired.
By renewing our minds, our thinking becomes more gracious, our language becomes more courteous, and our actions become more edifying.
The New Me
My husband finally convinced me to update my photo after stubbornly sticking to that 16-year-old photo of myself for well over 14 years. I conceded reluctantly after he admonished that I was no longer that girl in the photo, that I had grown and blossomed since then. Looking at that picture of a made-up teenager with a bright future and a unfailing confidence in herself, I examined where I was and how I’d matured. Nothing about me seemed to have blossomed from the outside. In fact, it seemed just the opposite. My outward appearance has taken drastic steps backward. No longer fashion-conscious or overly contoured, my physical image is no longer my shining light.
The luminescence of my life is no longer based on the curvature of my waist or the contouring of my face, but the caliber of my character and the condition of my heart.
So the new me, feeble and exhausted from juggling the kids and the chaos of life, threw on some sweats, forced my unruly hair into a hair tie, and raced down to the DMV. Disshoveled and discouraged, I stared at the closed-circuit TV screen until my number flashed. Trudging through the dimly-lit department, I met the blue screen and camera with a daunting and depleting sentiment, totally opposite of my first experience there. I took a deep breath to gain peace and smiled on the attendant’s count.
When I finally got my license, as much as I was initially embarrassed by my frazzled appearance and complete lack of effort, what I realized is that this is the new me, less concerned with self and more concerned for others. Now I can see more character than cover-up. I’m no longer concealing the light. Rather, I’m allowing the light to be the most influential feature that draws others to me.
The new me is less about me and more about who conceals me.
The new me is a work of Christ constantly renewed in my life.
How do you renew your mind? Share your revelations below.