The Pressure To Conform
I’ve been praying for revelation lately when reading the Word. The Holy Spirits job is to teach us. “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative-that is, the Holy Spirit-He will teach you everything and remind you of everything I told you” John 14:26. So as I was reading in Romans and felt the Holy Spirits tug I paused and began to meditate and study the words that caught my attention.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
The word “conformed” seemed to jump out at me. I looked up its definition. It means to give the same shape, outline, or contour to; to be similar or identical, compliant, to be or act in accord with a set of standards, to become similar in character. So basically it means to be like something else.
The world is screaming at us all of the time through television and advertisements to be like something, to be like the world. Dress like, act like, talk like and think like people around us. But God’s word is telling us NOT to conform, not to shape our lives and actions into the form of the world. Everything we see screams lust, adultery, lack of restraint and selfishness. Just like Jesus gave himself to be crucified, we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. That verse says it is our reasonable service!
That scripture also tells us to be “transformed” by the renewing of our minds. To be transformed means to change in character or condition, make a thorough or dramatic change, to change the nature of. God is telling us not to conform to look or act like the world, but to be transformed into His image.
Depending on what age we were saved, we most likely lived a good many years under the influence of the world. We learn how to act or react by seeing how people around us act. We learn how to handle issues by seeing how other people around us do it. So needless to say by the time Jesus gets ahold of us we have learned a good many things that are contrary to how Jesus would have us behave.
Our minds need to undergo a transformation. Just like a computer is programed with information and can only reproduce according to what it’s programed with, our minds are very much the same. Our whole lives are a process of learning. Our mind stores every bit of information as memory to be recalled when needed. We need to delete our old programming from the world and reprogram our minds with God’s word and His ways. His ways are in direct opposition to the world’s ways.
The world tells us to lash out at the people who hurt us, God’s word says to forgive and let it go. The world says to do what you feel like doing! But God’s word tells us to have self-control. There is no way we can ever begin to act and react Christ-like if we are not renewing our minds with God’s word. We can’t do something we don’t know to do. We must read and study His word and get it planted deep into our hearts for it to make a difference in how we act and think.
I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. I was saved at age 15, and had to relearn a lot of things. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes determination to correct our behavior when it doesn’t line up with God’s ways. But as we keep moving forward and keep practicing, His word will even transform our thoughts. Just like I wrote last week, our minds are bombarded with thoughts that don’t belong to us. We have to choose what we think about. Soon we begin to think and respond to situations with His word and His ways become our ways.
Verse 1 in Romans 12 tells us to present our bodies to God, which is our reasonable service. Another translation The Message says it like this, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Our everyday lives should stand out in stark contrast to the world around us. When the people in our sphere of influence begin to see we are different, we react to life’s problems differently, that is when they will begin to seek what we have, to desire to know why we are different. The crowds were drawn to Jesus because He was different, not like the religious Pharisees of their day. They were drawn to His kindness and His compassion. When we can truly begin to act Christ-like then we can become change agents in this world!