It’s that time of year again…my birthday is coming up and I will need to visit the Secretary of State’s office to renew my license plate tag; this year, my driver’s license also expires, so I have to renew that as well.
This is not a pleasant process– I will wait in line, answer questions, and have a photo taken. I will write out a check or have money debited from my bank account (ouch). I may have to wait another week or two for the new driver’s license to be sent out, and then I will have to live with the horrible photo for a few years. What a drag! I often hear people complaining about the process–it’s a time-consuming, costly, bureaucratic nightmare, or it’s just an annoyance.
Except I don’t really “have to” do any of those things. Being a licensed driver is not a life or death matter. The law says that I must possess a valid license in order to drive, but thousands of people drive every day with no license, or a suspended or expired license, and “get away with it.” Others choose not to drive, and do not carry a license or state-issued photo ID.
But I choose to go through the annoying process because of the benefits. Driving is a privilege– one denied to many who can’t afford, or can’t operate a vehicle. Renewing my license brings much-needed revenue to the state, so they can (attempt to) maintain the roads, bridges, and traffic-related signs and lights that we use every day. Renewing shows my commitment to obey the laws and authorities that govern (the roads in and around) my city, county, state, and nation. Renewing my license gives me an opportunity to register (or confirm my status) as a voter. It even gives me the opportunity to learn patience and people skills!
All this to talk about another kind of renewal…
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
The Apostle Paul speaks about the “renewing of your mind.” In renewing my license, I am conforming to the laws of the land. This passage is not telling me to break the law; it is calling me to transform the way I view the world, the way I process the world, and the way I allow my thoughts to shape my behavior. Instead of thinking about the license process as an inconvenience– I need to weigh the inconvenience against the benefits I receive from having a valid license. Instead of focusing on the negatives around me– fear, hatred, selfishness, complaining, greed, lying, etc., I need to focus on how I can respond in hope, love, compassion, encouragement, generosity, and truth. And I need to depend on the work of the Holy Spirit to transform the way I think about the world, about myself, and about God.
There is a lot of ugliness in the world, lately; but there is also a lot of beauty. There are urgent needs, but there are also abundant resources in Christ Jesus. There are hardships, but there are also moments of peace, healing, and hope.
It’s time for renewal!
8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 MEV)