I’ve always considered myself a non-conformist. I’ve always considered many aspects of my life to be counter-cultural. I’ve always considered myself a Luddite, which is a fancy word for someone who is unnerved by new technology (he says as he types away on his MacBook). Honestly, I can tend to take unhealthy pride in the fact that I don’t have cable television, I don’t get on Facebook, I don’t care about your tweets, I don’t have a cell phone that can access the Internet, and I hate shopping. My car is uncool, my ratty clothes are uncool, and my weird music is uncool… which I think makes me pretty cool! Woo-hoo! I’m a non-conformist! This is perfect, right?
Scott said it best over the weekend (Dec. 17-18): “The kids that thought they were the biggest non-conformists always looked alike. The all looked the same, dressed the same, and acted the same. They were like a herd – they all traveled together.” Ouch. That statement hit close to home, but its corresponding verse wrecked the living room: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)
If I perform an honest evaluation of my ‘counter-cultural’ tendencies, then I have to humbly admit that I’ve done plenty of conforming. Sure… I haven’t conformed to iPhones or social networking. Instead, I’ve conformed to the world of scholastic endeavors and ‘book-smarts’ – a world where we use annoying words like ’scholastic’, ‘endeavor’, and ‘Luddite’. Sure… I haven’t conformed to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Instead, I’ve conformed to the world of ‘interesting’ music – a world where we worship the 22-minute-long song, vinyl records, and impossible to pronounce band names. Sure… I haven’t conformed to the world of shiny cars, brand-new clothes, 700-channel television, and fantasy football. Instead, I’ve conformed to the world of ‘first edition’ literature, frugal penny-pinching, and philosophical introspection – a world filled with debilitating pride and cynicism.
Here’s the saddest part: I’ve regularly resisted compliance to the rules, standards, and laws that God has drawn out for me in Scripture, displayed to me in the life of Jesus, and whispered to me through the Holy Spirit. Ironically, ‘compliance’ is synonymous with ‘conformity’, which makes my spirituality the only slice of my life in which I’ve been a consistent non-conformist.
How is this possible? Seriously! I’m chuckling aloud as I write this because I’m shocked with myself. Anytime I’ve considered myself a ‘non-conformist’, I’ve only been conforming to subtler idols, and the only part of my life that I truly wish was conformed – my will conformed to God’s will – is the only part of my life in which I’ve displayed heroic feats of non-conformity! This is sounding strangely familiar: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
How do I possibly fix this problem?
Thankfully, Romans 12:2 doesn’t say, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but transform yourself by the renewing of your mind.” Instead, Romans says to “be transformed,” and thankfully Jesus is doing this for me – slowly, but surely. Hopefully, with a little persistence and a ton of prayer, Jesus will continue to transform me by renewing my mind because there’s no way I can do this by myself.
Ben.Tags: Christmas Presence, conformity, romans