I like how some translations put the first part of Romans 12:2.
Do not be conformed to this age. (HCSB)
So often we talk about “the age we live in,” and how things have changed. And things have certainly changed. When I first moved to Japan back in 1995, email was still a “new thing,” as was the internet. So back in those days, I used air letters, and if I needed to make quicker contact, the telephone. Land lines, that is.
Now, of course, we have cell phones, email and Skype, not to mention social media.
But as well as changes in technology, we have changes in the way people think, particularly about morals. Things that were once considered “sinful,” are now considered normal. I wonder how many people remember what a couple “living in sin,” means.
More, we are now living in the age of “tolerance.” Now don’t get me wrong. Tolerance in itself is a good thing. Tolerance basically means that even if you don’t agree with someone, you can still deal with them on a day to day basis in a way that’s civil, and hopefully even friendly.
But in this age, tolerance means, “All beliefs are equally legitimate. And if you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong or you’re wrong. You’re both right. So don’t you dare even think that the other person could possibly be wrong. If you do, you’re being ‘intolerant.'”
Of course, this all goes out the window when these same people consider what Christians believe. At that point, “tolerance” becomes, “You’re wrong. You have to change the way you think.”
But if we truly want to know the mind of God, we cannot conform ourselves to the way this age thinks. Because while the way people think changes over time, God never changes.
There are multiple pressures to conform. They can come from society; they can come from family; they can come from friends. And these pressures are everywhere.
I can particularly see it in Japan, with its emphasis on “wa”, which means “group harmony.” One of the true few “sins” in Japanese society is the breaking of this “wa,” and it can get you ostracized in a hurry.
This is not to say that group harmony is itself a bad thing. Paul himself writes,
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
But there are times when the way you’re being pressed is contrary to the Word of God. And we cannot let ourselves be conformed to this age. Because ultimately, the patterns of this age will destroy us. If we let ourselves go along with those patterns, we will end up hurting God, others, and ourselves.
So let us not be conformed to the patterns of this age. Rather, as Paul puts it,
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2b)
How our minds transformed? Through the Word of God. By reading it, meditating on it, and by the power of the Spirit, living it. And as we do so, we find life. Because not only are our minds transformed, but our whole lives are transformed. We find the way God meant for us to live from the beginning. We find a marriage that works, relationships that work, peace in the midst of troubling circumstances, and joy within the darkest valleys. In short, we find the will of God in our lives. And we find that that will is good, pleasing, and perfect.
How about you? Is your mind being conformed to the pattern of this age? Or is your mind being transformed?