Will The Non-Conformists Please Rise Up?

In his book The Mindchangers,   Em Griffin describes an experiment  with groups of 12 people. They were brought into a room where four lines of unequal length were displayed. They had to decide which two were the same length and publicly vote for their choice. Person after person after person (11 in all) voted for the wrong line–because they had all been told to ahead of time. The one individual who was in the dark couldn’t imagine how in the world all these seemingly normal people could all choose the wrong line. When it was his turn to vote, he had to decide, “Do I go with what I know my senses are telling me, or do I go with the crowd?”  One third of those tested caved in to group pressure and changed their vote to agree with their peers. 

If you have ever been in a similar situation, you know how powerful peer pressure can be.  The pressure to conform to the world around us is a constant challenge.    That is one of the reasons the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 12:2, which says:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2a NIV

The verb “do not conform” is a command in greek which means “stop being conformed.”  Because it is in the present tense, it is a continual command, meaning “do this and keep on doing it”.  So they were to immediately stop doing something that they were doing, and continue to not do it the rest of their lives.  

A quick look at Websters definition gives us a clear picture of what they were to stop doing:    “to be similar or identical, to be obedient or compliant, to adapt oneself to prevailing standards or customs.”  Different Bible translations phrase it this way:  “You must not adopt the customs of”, “do not live according to”, ” do not imitate”,or  “don’t let the world arround you squeeze you into its mold.”  Get the picture?

It is clear that the Roman Christians were being challenged in this area.  They were allowing the culture of Rome to “squeeze them into its mold.”   Paul, in very forceful terms, commands these believers to stop being conformed. 

Clearly, God wants His people to live for Him and follow His way.  Yet they were building their lives after a slighty different standard than the one their King had called them to live by.  Of course, during this time, it was difficult to follow Christ.  Believers could be imprisoned, have their property confiscated, or even be executed for their faith.  With conditions like that, it is easy to see why they tried to fit in.  Yet, here they are commanded to stop compromising. 

Every generation of disciples is faced with the same challenge.  Will we live for Jesus the way He tells us to live?  Or will we do our own thing, and sprinkle it with a little bit of Jesus?    Paul’s admonition has just as much relevance to us as it did to them.  Remember that Jesus laid down the prerequisites of being his disciple:  He commanded us to pick up our cross and follow him!  No matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice.  That is what disciples do.  It is part of our DNA.

The question I ask myself, and all who might read this post is this: “Does the way I live my life show  I understand how incredibly merciful God has been towards me?  Do my decisions and action show, clearly, that I value the incredible price that was paid to redeem a traitor such as myself?    Is there anything in my life that needs to bow to the King?   

Oh Father, show us how we are being conformed to the pattern of this world rather than the pattern of The Cross.  We want to offer you lives that are truly laid down.  Help us grow in our faith and may we become known as people of The Cross and less as people of this age.  Teach us how to walk in Your way, regardless of the cost.  You alone are worthy of a life laid down, because of who you are and the price you paid.

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on December 11, 2010, in Christianity, The Christian Life, The Cross, Worship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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