What then does it mean when the Bible tells us to be set apart?
Set apart from being human? How can you be different to others that you essentially share the exact same functions and characteristics with? We are all fundamentally the same, there is no changing that. We cannot choose to smell differently, to see differently, to hear differently or eat differently. Sure you can change what you choose to listen to or what you choose to eat but the function of these abilities cannot and will not change.
SO let me ask again, how do you attempt to be set apart from something that you fundamentally can NEVER be set apart from?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
By now you would’ve noticed (or not) that my morose ranting didn’t mention anything about the mind. Because truly that is where the real party is. Without getting too deeply philosophical, the mind is the source of our beliefs, prentendings, intents, knowledge and desires. Our minds are powerful in the simple way that they control and develop our emotions, the nature of our behavioural attributes, our ability to understand social settings and to analyze these same functions in others.
Although one’s intentions and beliefs are hidden away in one’s mind, they are eventually revealed through some sort of expressive movement or action. That is something you cannot hide. You know I’m angry because of how I act or the expression on my face. Although, things are not as simple as “she looks angry, therefore she IS angry”. The way our own minds perceive and analyse the physical intent of the other is always just an assumption. As I said earlier,essentially we are all human and share the exact same physical functions of survival. Where we differ is in our minds because although we may find the statement “in order to survive our bodies need oxygen” as TRUE. Not all of us find the statement “Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins” as TRUE. Our physical bodies share a truth, but our minds are able to choose a truth. That’s why it is written “…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”. BUT…how would I be “transformed” by “renewing” my mind?
Before Christ our minds have been collecting, adapting, assuming, pretending, building knowledge, and resistance and the ability to recognize different aspects of reality and emotion in ourselves and others. Imagine your mind doing this for years and years and thus, there are layers and layers of mental states that exist within you. That is why Christ tells you to press the reset button, “renew your mind” “put on the new self” (Colossians 3:10). You cannot BE different or exist differently, if you do not THINK differently. When the renewing of the mind takes place, it takes place in the reflection of God’s own image. I don’t know about you, but I just got goosebumps. Like our minds of old, it was determined by what we saw, read, heard, felt, the people around us, events in our lives etc. And like minds of new the same things will determine its transformation. Therefore let the renewal be dominated by His Word, the appreciation of Creation, the loving of others, watching and listening to edifying content. Renewal is not instant nor is there a time limit to its process of transformation. Like your mind of old, it takes years, the rest of your life perhaps, but that’s the fun part. The discovering. The complete renewal I believe will not take place till our Saviour comes and makes us perfect.
To be set apart, is not about changing your look, there is no dress code for being a Christian because anyone can do that, ANYONE can look the part. To be set apart is to exist mentally renewed. I can still find the same things funny as a million other people, but beneath that single shallow layer is a deep sea of Christ-centered mental states that deem me as alien.