In Romans 12:2, we read: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (CSB). This word “conformed” means that you identify with or that you look similar to something because you follow the same pattern. Today’s verse says that we should not identify with the world. We should not look similar to the world.
This is difficult because we are in the world and the world is full of people and situations pulling us in all directions. We can with good intentions end up conforming to the world. We can find ourselves further moving toward the side of the world step-by-step. We usually don’t have some big fall where one day we do a 180 degree turn, but rather, a whole lot of smaller shortcomings, that will take us in the wrong direction. Sometimes we will overlook these steps or even justify them. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts” (The Screwtape Letters).
Lately, we as a people in general have been doing a lot more conforming without even realizing it. In the social media world, every single thing we do or say can be scrutinized. We also take in so much material, and this content competes for our time and buries itself in our minds. Today, the world can all chime in and it can permeate our core and impact our worldview. With us seeing thousands of images a day and data from all over, from anyone ranging from an expert to a computer bot, we have a lot taking and keeping our focus. Social media has resulted in a much larger peer pressure situation than ever before in our history. Before we only had to deal with the taunting of our family, neighbors, and friends.
Sadly, I have seen a lot of this happening in the past decade. Churches have had big breaks or even closed because of challenges to the biblical worldview, doctrine, and agendas. For the sake of inclusion, things that were or are true and factual have been adapted or changed. Confusion and chaos seem to be all around us, as we can hear the phrase, “Do not be conformed.” The lines have been blurred. The plumb line has been disregarded. Instead of upholding what God has said, we have responded: “Did God really say?” We questions things and when we do, we at times are found picking up the fruit and taking one bite after another. The brokenness is all around us and it is disheartening and frustrating. As we let the world tell us what God says, or when we turn our eyes and ears away from what God says, conforming is easy, if not expected.
What can we do? What can we do with all this chaos and confusion? What can we do as the world continues to try to pull us the other way? We cannot take on the whole world. We cannot force open another person’s eyes to see the truth when they are blind. We are in the midst of a battle. We cannot typically see where the enemy is plotting and working. Usually the enemy is seated right at our own table and we have no idea. With the desire to tolerate and be inclusive, we often invite to our table that which we were told never to consume. We open the door but it is actually the floodgates—floodgates pouring that which God never intended all over our lives.
We must stand firm. Stand firm with God. Stand firm on God’s Word. Drink deep from His Word and allow it to refresh and renew you. Love is most important but truth in love is necessary. Love is not separate from truth. Truth is not separate from love. We are to love God and to love people. Loving others does not mean conforming to the world. It means pouring out what we received from God. He loved first, remember? This love never changes the truth. Rather, it reveals it. Do not be conformed. Stand firm my friend. Rest in Him and love—love, love, love!