Conformed to this World

November 12, 2015

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. Romans 12:2

protestsIn his letter to the Romans, perhaps the most complete theological treatise we have from the apostle Paul, a veritable high-definition picture of the gospel-centered worldview, when he finally turns the corner from the heavy theology in chapters 1-11 and begins to address the very, very practical question of how, then, we should live, Paul begins that counsel with a simple charge: we should look different from the world. That is his very first word of practical counsel. Be transformed. Be different.

And so, when we (as the church) respond to the world around us exactly like the rest of the world responds, it is safe to say we have failed. None of us want that. We all despise failure. Some of us even have an unhealthy fear of it. So, let’s succeed, shall we? Let’s be transformed! Let’s not look like the rest of the world.

But that is harder than it might seem. Sometimes, we have been IN the world for so long, we do not even realize that we are looking more and more like it. So, here are some reminders. Here are some ways the world behaves to which we, as God’s people, would do well NOT to conform. Spelling them out here, just so we can remember.

1. When the world sees a racially-charged incident brewing in Missouri, it runs to the fight like a bench-clearing brawl in a baseball game. Everyone sees the fight and realizes their “tribe” may be involved (or ought to be involved) and immediately begins seeing the “facts” through the lens of their cause, accusing anyone from any other tribe of being evil and painting them in the worst light possible. The PR attacks ensue on social media and everyone goes to great lengths to make sure the incident is spun to support their agenda. That’s the way the world does it. How about the church? Are we conformed to this world?

2.  When the world enters political discussion, it always paints its “opponents” in as dark and ridiculous and evil light as possible, all in the name of “telling the truth”. To the world, simply talking about the actual issues in a civil way and explaining why my own candidate seems to have a good handle on that issue (rather than why the other candidate is an ass or a buffoon or a liar or a part of some evil conspiracy to destroy our country) is, well, boring and ineffective. That’s the way the world does it. How about the church? Are we conformed to this world?

3.  When the world is persecuted and being systematically terrorized by violent acts, its blood boils and it becomes hopelessly enraged or irrationally fearful (or both) and begins making plans to either attack or defend itself with like and “necessary” violence. And a war is born, with violence begetting violence and with tensions escalating and with everyone demonizing everyone, ensuring utter destruction. That’s the way the world does it. How about the church? Are we conformed to this world?

4. When the world doesn’t like a particular organization or corporation, because it has supported causes with which the world doesn’t agree, or because it has failed to support causes with which the world agrees, the world sets out to destroy that entity’s reputation and/or drive it into financial ruin. The fancy names like “boycotts” or “sanctions” are softer than words like “retaliation” or “vengeance” or “hatred”, so the world uses those terms instead. And the world justifies this under some lofty platitudes such as “justice” or “truth”. And, having already decided that it hates that particular organization or company, the world sees every decision it makes as evil or malicious. That’s the way the world does it. How about the church? Are we conformed to this world?

I feel like I could go on and on. The examples just keep coming. Turn on the news or check your favorite social media feed. You’ll see what I mean. Church, we can do better. We can succeed.

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. Romans 12:2

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One thought on “Conformed to this World

  1. Deanna Serna

    Thank you! Sadly so many people who identify themselves as Christians do not seem to understand that when Jesus said “you will be my witnesses”, it was not just a suggestions. All we say and do will either bring glory to Him or be a detriment to His Kingdom!

    Reply

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