“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
One of my all-time favorite movies back in middle school was “What a Girl Wants,” featuring the one and only Amanda Bynes. Her character, Daphne, finds herself in a particular society where people are expected to behave and look a certain way in order to belong.
Not having been raised in this new world she’s entered, she stands out like a sore thumb and the people around her aren’t too pleased. Because she doesn’t fit their mold, she makes some feel uncomfortable and others threatened. They end up asking her to change who she is in order to fit in. Because she doesn’t want to lose the ones she loves, she does.
She adapts to their ways, their look and behaviors, and we lose sight of the joyful and vivacious character we saw at the start of the movie. At some point along the way, one of those she loves has the courage to be honest with her. He asks, “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you belong to stand out?”
I think that quote is worth a second read. “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you belong to stand out?” Now, our human instinct might not want to agree with this, but this statement couldn’t be truer for us as Christians.
The Bible sure does back it up a lot. Romans 12:2 says this: “Do not conform any longer 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.” Another way to say that would be: don’t completely blend in with the current of our culture or you can unknowingly be numbed down to accept and believe in things that are not a part of God’s perfect will.
We are a part of the culture—we listen to music, wear clothes, use social media, watch movies, read books, etc. Being a part of the culture often leads to people relating with each other and forming community. God rejoices in that!
But, not everyone on this earth lives with the intention to do God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Their lifestyle and choices reflect that. So we as Christians have to use wisdom to discern what things are of God and what things aren’t, and then act or make decisions accordingly. What might it look like not to conform?
It could look like not using some of the language your peers do. It could look like not going to see a movie with your friends because of some of its content. It could look like not wearing particular clothing even though it’s the hot new trend. Or it could look like standing up for someone who is being ridiculed, even though those who you stand up against are your friends. It could look like choosing not to laugh at something even when everyone else is, because you know the subject doesn’t glorify God.
Who knows - someday someone might see your actions and ask you, “Why?” Then you’ll have the perfect opportunity to testify to God.
Let’s face it, it can be easier to blend in and just go with what everyone else is doing! But God gives us guidance and encouragement for how to follow Him, despite our circumstances.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Although it can be hard to imagine, this life we live here on earth is temporary. Our real home is not here; it is in heaven. So we shouldn’t be trying so hard to “settle in” here!