O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-12:2 (NRSV)
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.
Ever notice how certain creatures of the night get renewed popularity in popular horror films? It’s striking that the two most popular “horror movie creatures” seem to be vampires and zombies these days. The renewed interest in vampires started with the Anne Rice novels. Lately, it seems that zombies are becoming all the rage. It makes me wonder what underlying statement we are making culturally about a basic fear–the fear of re-animation without animus–that we, as a culture, fear being ambient and responsive to stimuli, but bereft of self-awareness and a collective consciousness. We fear being controlled by the zombie master–submitting to a will in which our own ability to align our will is extinguished.
Paul speaks of something similar in this passage when he talks about not being conformed to the world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Greek word used for transformation in this passage is metamorphoō–the basis of our word metamorphosis. We commonly use this word in describing the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and the prefix meta- is a very common word in medicine both to the positive and to the negative–metaplasia, one tissue type being transformed to another in response to an injurious stimuli to protect it–and metastasis, the spread of a primary tumor to distant organs.
The ambiguity of metamorphoō is a good reminder that change in our lives is a process, not a single event–and that there are both choices and things beyond our choices that shape this transformation. The ultimate choice for us, however, is the choice to align our wills with the source of all that is holy. Transformation in the Christian journey is not a re-animation by God the Grand Zombie Master. Because God desires relationship with us, as illustrated again and again in the Bible, God desires our awareness and consciousness to both the divine, and to the collective consciousness of all souls, both in this present existence and in the plane of existence of the company of Heaven. We are allowed the freedom to make both positive and negative choices in this process of metamorphoō.
How has metamorphoō entered our lives this week? Has it been full of consciousness or devoid of it? What choices can we make that allow us to move from caterpillar to butterfly to those around us rather than be like a metastatic tumor, burdenous, beyond our control, and eventually fatal to our spiritual growth?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepsicatoid