In my daily life I don’t hear the word conform at all. In fact when I think about it I’ve only ever heard it growing up in church, in relation to Romans 12:2:
‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world’.
Sometimes I don’t always understand what I read in the Bible straight away and the language can be very different to what I hear day to day, but often that’s because the Bible contains epic and deep things. The challenge is to not pretend to understand but to make the effort and try and find out as much as you can about a passage. So I did…
I Google’d the word conformed and in the original Greek it’s ‘suschematizo’, which literally means to ‘be moulded or stamped according to a pattern’.
I decided that if I am going to be moulded by anyone I want it to be God. And if I’m going to be stamped according to anyone’s pattern I want it be God’s pattern for me – not just whatever is happening or going on around me.
In the Message paraphrase of the Bible, Romans 12:2 says,
‘Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.’
Here is the key to living life well and living as a mature Christian – don’t forget to think!
It’s important to learn to read and recognise the various elements of our culture and compare them to how we know God wants things to be. If something looks different, then let’s get active – God is incredibly wise, we just need to turn up each day.
If I’m going to be stamped according to anyone’s pattern I want it be God’s pattern for me.
When I hear this verse in Romans I usually assume that we need to live defensively, on edge, wary of culture and the world we live in. But we forget that although bits of our culture and world can be dark at times, there is nothing we should fear. We forget that although places look dark, God is bigger and brighter – He did create light!
We forget that this verse that tells us not to conform – to not to just fit in – but it is surrounded by so many other verses that tell us how to be experts in living freely. This is about living lives that see God’s Kingdom come and our culture shaped for the better. Now that’s something I’m up for.
I want to be an expert at living how God wants me to – changing myself to adjust to Him. Naturally then I won’t fit with everything around me, and sometimes I will have to deliberately decide not to do things that my friends might. But I have this promise
‘…how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!’
The Message version of that passage is a little different:
‘…can you imagine the breath taking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant gift of life, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?’
We can be non-conformists, offering a breath-taking recovery to elements of our world and culture. Will we grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant gift of life that Jesus offers – not just as some offer of future salvation, but in this world and in our culture too?