URC Daily Devotion for Friday 16th December 2022

Romans 12:1

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.


I really don’t like creeds.  When encountering an unfamiliar hymn or communal reading, I scan ahead before joining in.  I contemplate the words of a Biblical text before declaring, ‘This is the Word of the Lord’, and the message of the sermon before adding my ‘Amen’. 

Sometimes, I absolutely disagree with the sentiments to which I am asked to add my voice – they may have racist connotations, hints of sexism or homophobia, or aspects which just don’t speak for who I am or what I believe.  I have no problem with hymns, or readings, or religion per se, but it seems to me that there are too many areas of ‘organised religion’ in which we allow ourselves to simply follow, to conform – which amounts to letting someone else do our thinking for us.

Football is a great love…a mega-passion…with the amazing power to bring many thousands of people together.  I am not one of those people!  My interest in football is not quite zero, but certainly in lower single digits!  I don’t understand football – neither the rules of the game, nor its appeal – but I have no problem with it.  I do have a problem with aspects of ‘football culture’ – things too many people go along with as they let themselves be swept up in the moment.  Antisocial and even violent behaviour. Racist chants.  Subjecting individual players to targeted abuse.  The kinds of behaviour which, had they taken time to employ their brains on an individual basis, most would immediately see was unacceptable – but someone, somewhere, kickstarts the foolishness, and too many others simply follow.

In religion, in sport, in life – why do we feel such compulsion to move with the crowd?  If God did not intend for us to think for ourselves, why were we given the gift of intellect?  So let us not be conformed to the ways of the worlds we inhabit, but think, ponder – and leave space for God to transform, reveal, and renew.

God, always with me,
Give me courage to think for myself.
Give me courage to walk on my own.
Make me open to hearing and learning
all that is good in the world around me,
Yet willing to question and challenge
and, sometimes, to walk away
Transform me from within
To live more fully as the person
You call me to be –
In this world,
But not conformed to its ways.  Amen.

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