Who do you worship?
Is there a relationship in your life that you idolize, adore, or glorify? Often, the important relationships in our lives can slip into a place of worship without us even realizing it. The problem is that our identities are shaped by who we worship. So, when we worship another person, we actually become that person’s image of us.
For example, if I idolize the relationship with my mother, and she walks out on me or doesn’t want me, then I become abandoned or unwanted. But if she adores me and dotes on me, then I become loved and wanted.
If I idolize the relationship with my husband, and he cheats on me or leaves me, then I become rejected and unloved. But if he wants me and loves me, then I become worthy and desirable.
If I idolize the relationship with my boss, and she gives me a poor performance review or question my skillsets, then I become worthless or never good enough. But if she praises me or celebrates me, then I become successful and accomplished.
Whether good or bad, my identity can be shaped by the way the people I idolize see me. But people are capable of changing their minds and hearts at any given moment, so I might be loved one day and unloved the next. And as I begin to idolize new relationships so I can fill the holes left in me by previous relationships, I start to further pull at the strings of my identity until I have multiple identities built up around different relationships. And all of those identities are constantly changing based on the moods and whims of the people I care about.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of the mind.”
The word conformed in this verse is “syschematizo” in the Greek, which is to be molded or shaped, especially in your behavior or identity. This can look like what I described above, where your identity is constantly being molded or shaped by the opinion of this world. And when you let your identity be continually changed by multiple people’s images of you, you will start to splinter. And when that happens, you go from “syschematizo” to “schizophrene,” which is where the word schizophrenia comes from. You form multiple identities that then define you.
Comparatively, the word transformed in this verse is “metanoia” or “metamorpho” in the Greek, which is to transform the essential nature of something. It depicts going from one thing to a completely new thing, once and for all. This is where we get the word metamorphosis—the change of form or structure, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The butterfly only changed one time. And it will never turn back into a caterpillar, regardless of how people perceive it.
This is why Scripture tells us that the true way to worship God is not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we idolize people, we become conformed to the image the world has of us. But when we worship God, we become transformed into the image He has of us, which is His own image (Gen 1:27.) He transforms us into a new person by changing the way we think. And because God never changes, our identities become unshakable.
What does it look like to renew our minds? Romans 1:23 explains that we have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal men. Essentially, as part of the fall, our minds seek to elevate other relationships into the place of God in our lives. The spirit of our minds is to worship anything but God. So, we renew our minds by steadfastly meditating on the perfections of Christ. Then, with the help of Holy Spirit, we can pursue revelation of the glory of God and remind ourselves that He is infinitely more worthy of our praise and worship than anyone else in this world.
When we begin to see Him as He truly is, we will also start to see ourselves as we truly are in Him. Then, we will never again identify as abandoned, unwanted, rejected, unloved, worthless, or alone. Instead, we become the chosen, beloved sons and daughters of the God of the universe. This is why God alone can handle our worship and why He alone is worthy of it.
The moment you accept Christ as your Savior, your identity becomes perfect and complete, never to be changed again. It’s not based on what you do or don’t do. It’s not based on how others do or do not perceive you. You are transformed, once and for all.
And butterflies never turn back into caterpillars.