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Why Change Has to Start in the Body: Part 4

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Yesterday, we ended with the struggle of implicit memory telling us what is safe and what is dangerous and the way that is physically embedded in our autonomic nervous system. We ended with Paul's frustration in the letter to the Romans about the law of sin at work in his body.

But Paul goes on after his exasperated cry of “who will save me?”

And for the next 4 chapters, he unpacks the incredible goodness of the gospel - that the Spirit of Christ can overcome the law of sin and death, that God’s mercy never fails, that Jesus is the Messiah and saves not only the Jews, but all of us - and that none of us are beyond saving.

And then, in light of all this, he comes to this compassionate appeal (Rom. 12:1-2)

“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.”

You Can Be Transformed

The best news is that we can be transformed! We’re not stuck this way!

The sin and brokenness in our bodies can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

This is backed up by science as well - brain plasticity. Our nervous systems can be re-shaped, re-wired through developing new strategies and patterns.

If you want to learn to work with your body to make lasting changes, sign up for Rooted.

There’s a grace and a truth to this.

The Grace

The grace is that God has already done it! And the kingdom patterns that we were supposed to learn in our early years are the realities that God has written into the fabric of the universe for all eternity.

And it’s never too late to shift our patterns from the ones we learned in our childhood. Because God's intended patterns are the shape of the created reality, they are predictable and reliable and they never change.

Psalm 23 tells us that Jesus IS already and always our Good Shepherd - dependably with us and always caring for us.

Isaiah 61 speaks of the possibility of hope and new life: "They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, To display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; They shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations."

God has already done it. And that's the grace of it.

The Truth

And here’s the truth part of it.

Transformation requires our participation - and it starts with our bodies.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together” is a pretty common statement when talking about the way patterns are shaped in the brain. All of your protection strategies are wired together and so when one piece of the pattern fires, the whole pattern fires and you find yourself in a default patterned response that might not fit the situation you're currently facing.

These patterns are all about self-preservation and self-defense. It’s all up to you. It’s all about you. This is really bad news if you feel unsafe, alone, or helpless. And it’s all wired in your nervous system because those neural pathways have fired together thousands of times.

Change Needs to Practiced and Embodied

But - you can become transformed - physically rewired - by firing new neurons together and practicing that new pattern until it becomes wired.

The pattern of God’s kingdom is that we are safe in God’s eternal protection, accepted, and powerful. When we learn to pay attention to our bodies and learn to detect when our nervous system is moving into a threat response, we can work with our bodies to explore whether the threat is real in God’s kingdom or if it’s a "conformed to this world" threat.

And we can begin to discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect.

But it takes practice and it takes community. If you want to join a community and learn practices to find lasting change, sign up for Rooted.


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