(As published by The Good news paper )
What standard do you live by?
Would you prefer to be excellent or simply fit in?
Furthermore, how would you like to be able to test and approve God’s will? His good, pleasing and perfect will. Jesus did. Scripture tells us that Jesus only did what he saw the father do and the father said of him, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” - Mathew 3:17.
Like Jesus, we too can live a life of distinction. Romans 12:2 tells us how to achieve this. It reads, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This verse has several layers to it and with all parts interlocked in such great wisdom. This article focuses on the section concerning conformity.
What is conformity?
Conformity to the patterns of this world is your quickest route to a mediocre life. Like a product on a factory assembly line, with conformity, one’s highest aspiration is to be and do like everybody else.
Culture in any setting such as within a family, a company or community can be the strongest promoter of conformity. Culture reasons that – this is how we do things here. Conformity bows and responds with –
“I found things this way, therefore I must continue to follow things the way they are.” “Everybody does it, therefore it is ok.”
“What will people think of me if I dare to be different?”
Conformity is closely linked to comfort. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the alternatives offered to him by the devil sounded good, convenient and comfortable. However, for each test, because Jesus was not fashioned according to the pattern of this world, he was able to test and approve what God’s will was.
The pattern of the Kingdom of God
In his sermon on the mount, Jesus lays the foundation for the pattern men are to live by. One that is fashioned according to the Kingdom of God. A new standard. For example, he taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...”
From Joseph to Daniel, scripture outlines a great multitude of ambassadors of distinction. People of excellence who loved God and chose to go against the norm. Refusing to conform to the pattern around them, they did what was right even in the face of severe punishment or losing their lives.
Adjusting your pattern
You too can be a person of distinction. With the word of God close to you and prayer as your guide, you can know what pleases God. You can start today to intentionally pursue the alternative and narrow routes that go against the patterns of the world around you. Not in aggression, but in submission to God.
There will be sacrifice and it will not always feel good but making these tough choices is what will get you on the continuous journey to true transformation. It may require for you to change how you spend your time, what you read, listen to, what you spend your money on and even your associations. Additionally, it may require for you to think for yourself in order to identify areas of risky conformity or blind followership.
This first step is crucial to living a transformed for Christ Jesus. It will not always feel comfortable but it is richly rewarding.
Can you list five ways in which you stand distinguished from the culture around you?