There are so many quotes and memes that celebrate the person that “marches to the beat of a different drummer”. But in the end, despite that celebration, the world seems to prefer it when people conform. And when we Christians stand strong and do not conform, we are looked at as being judgmental. Fight the labeling, it is just another one of the enemy’s tricks to get you to conform. Come on… everybody else is doing it! Sound familiar?
Paul said it wonderfully, “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.” (Rom 12:2) The diagram above, drawn with kindergarten level stick figures, explains the difference well.
Conformation comes from pressures from the outside. All the pressures of the world, of our friends, of society as a whole… they begin to weigh on us in a way that we literally feel pressured to surrender to their ways. We teach our kids to never succumb to peer pressure, be strong and know right from wrong so you can withstand the outside pressure. Then we grow up and succumb to peer pressure on a grander scale. The result is more good people conforming to the ways of the world.
Transformation comes from passions within. With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we feel His counsel from within, guiding us, renewing us. As a result, we display the fruit of that spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23)
If you go back and read the Romans quote, notice the verb tense. It is “be” conformed or “be” transformed. Both are a result of us responding to other forces. The question is which force will you respond to. Is it the world which is governed by the prince of darkness, or the Holy Spirit which is an equal part of the trinity?
But, after you allow the Holy Spirit to be your governing voice and are transformed by Him, you have a decision to make. How will you then respond to those outside forces of the world? Paul gives us a clue here as well. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”” (Rom 12:18-19)
Being transformed by the Spirit means displaying His fruit. This also means living in peace (as far as it depends on you) with the world. This doesn’t mean be quite about your faith to avoid rocking the boat. It doesn’t mean you value peace above values. It doesn’t mean you accept being steamrolled in life by the enemy. It does mean you try to live in peace. You don’t retaliate with revenge.
Politically speaking, we are living in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. This era is often called the “post-Christian” era. The world around us is becoming more and more hostile toward our views. Know that, anticipate that, don’t be surprised by it. Live in peace as best as possible without conforming to their ways. Speak up but don’t seek vengeance. Stand up but don’t start a war. Remember, He says “vengeance is mine” because in the end, He wins.
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