Battling Conformity

      Years ago I used to watch a show, “Star Trek:  The Next Generation.”  In my mind, the stand-out enemy of the Federation was a group called “The Borg.”  They would capture people, take away their freewill and make them part of the collective.  The Borg were known for saying to their potential victims “you will be assimilated.”  I think of the Borg when I read the Apostle Paul’s words, “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—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Our current culture often subtly and sometimes aggressively tries to assimilate or conform the Christian’s thoughts to a popular cultural mindset.  I appreciate author Natasha Crain’s summary of the current dominate thinking.  She says, “Feelings are the ultimate guide, happiness is the ultimate goal, and judging is the ultimate sin” (Faithfully, 159)    It is easy to see where this kind of thought pattern has taken our society. Clearly our unrestrained feelings have led us into a culture of violence.  If allowed, our feelings would often steer us wrong.  Sometimes we might feel like punching someone; in contrast, it is always best to hit pause and practice self-control instead.    In our society, happiness is often equated with immediate pleasure.  Most married men would experience pleasure by looking at pictures of beautiful, naked women on the internet.  Yet mental faithfulness is honoring to a wife and part of a Christian’s call to integrity.  In today’s culture, judging is wrongly defined as challenging anyone’s behavior.  Yet our Lord and Savior Jesus, who said “judge not” often challenged people and called them to live holy lives.  
     So how do we resist the crushing cultural pressure to conform and instead be transformed?
      First, marinate your mind in the Word of God.  The Bible is God’s timeless truth and can be trusted rather than our often fickle emotions.   Listen to an audio Bible in the background when you are working.  Read through the Scripture regularly.  Memorize passages that speak to you powerfully.  In short, fully engage with the Word of God.  Author Chip Ingram asks a compelling question when he says, “Are you shaped more by the world or the Word?” (True Spiritually Small Group Study Guide, Chip Ingram, 43).   
      Second, invite the Holy Spirit’s aid.  When we become Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit works from the inside out to create in our lives the authentic, compassionate, faithful person that He desires for us to become.  God gives us a picture in nature where a lowly, crawling caterpillar goes into his cocoon and comes out a beautiful butterfly that is free to fly.  If we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit then spiritual metamorphosis awaits. 
      Third, rest in our identity in Jesus Christ.  A Christian is a person Jesus died for.  A Christian is a person who has accepted God’s offer to join his family.  We are deeply and passionately loved by our Creator.  We do not need to be people pleasers.  Live for an audience of One.  Ultimate success is not found in accolades at work or the number of your followers on social media but in hearing from your Maker “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)
     Reject the enticements of this world and begin your journey of healthy transformation.

Pastor Derek Dickinson