Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Living As A Nonconformist
As we present ourselves to God, the Scripture says, “do not be conformed to this world.” What does it mean by “conformed?” It causes me to think of times I’ve seen construction workers prepare to pour a driveway or sidewalk. The first thing they do is to build a form that will hold the concrete so that it takes the shape they have designed. That’s what the world tries to do to us, even the religious world does it.
Structures are laid out and we are taught to stay within the bounds set for us. “If you want to know God’s will, there are certain things you must do. You have to do your part.” So we are told.
If you act outside those bounds, you will be sanctioned. Jesus ran into this challenge constantly. Everybody, including the religious world of His day, thought He had lost His mind because He didn’t go with the flow in terms of how they believed things ought to be. He was a nonconformist and his nonconformity provoked those around Him.
Paul is telling us something very important about how to know God’s will with certainly. It’s this: don’t stay inside the world’s form. Don’t be con (with) formed by the world. Get outside the box they have built for you. You don’t have to jump through a series of religious hoops to know God’s will. That’s nothing but a bunch of religious hype.
Take Paul’s advice and don’t allow the world, even the religious world, to press you into its mold so that you approach things in the same way. The Bible says that apart from God doing His work in us, our attitudes and actions will be formed by others. How we think and how we live will take shape because of influences other than Christ.
What practical implication does this biblical nonconformity have on your potential to know God’s will for your own life? The answer to that question varies from person to person. What prerequisites have you been told are necessary in order for you to know God’s will in your life? I’ve already given you one that I taught for years – that you should become holy although, in reality, you already are.
What other faulty ideas have “formed” the way you have thought about how to know God’s will that you now realize are wrong? Remember, knowing God’s will isn’t a hard thing. Religion will try to make it that way, but your loving Father certainly has no part of that. His yoke is easy.
We take on the philosophies, beliefs, values, and habits of the worldly and religious cultures in which we live. In another passage, Paul warns against being taken captive. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
There are many traditions that we are taught are necessary to know God’s will, but many of them are empty deceptions consisting of the philosophy or man. If we allow it, these will influence the way we think about God’s will. They aren’t God’s way, but they attract those who believe knowing God’s will is a hard thing.
It is interesting to see how many Christians take a defensive stance against the behaviors of the culture around us — things like dress, music, entertainment, or other external things — while remaining seemingly unaware of the dangers of the world’s ideas. And yet, from our thinking, flow all the rest of our life’s decisions and actions. We must be aware and on guard, because the worlds of both the unrighteous and the self-righteous will surely try to conform us to their shape.
(This article is an excerpt from my book, Walking in the Will of God, (Harvest House Publishers, 2009) For more info on the book, click here: http://gracewalkresources.com/item.asp?cID=0&PID=555