Do not Conform but be Transformed!
“1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2
Wow! It’s a new morning, a new day in a new month in the year of our Lord Jesus. I thank God for whom He has been to me up to this moment in the year. T’was just the other day when we were sending New Year blessings to each other and now, the year is advanced and grown. What does this depict to you and me? It reminds us that the coming of our Lord Jesus is drawing nigh and nigh and the question remains: Are you and I prepared for his second coming? Will the son of Man meet faith in us when he comes back? (Luke18:8) We are living in a changing world everyday and if we are not very careful, we will find ourselves swallowed in the happenings of the world and we will find ourselves choked and eventually our faith will have died. (see Matthew 13:20-21).
In light of this; Paul urges us as brethren that we should continually be on guard and make sure that we do not conform to the world but we be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Paul was echoing the same words that King Solomon had said that we should “guard our hearts with all diligence” Proverbs 4:23. This is what Paul tells the Romans; “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2. When Paul writes to the Romans, he knew that this was happening/would happen in our times. You will come to realize that what the bible speaks about is what was happening then and even today, it does still happen.
Did u know that in the English language, to conform means to change on the outside and to transform means to change on the inside? Paul used these two words very deliberately… "Do not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" vs2. God desires that we are changed from within but the world is only interested on the outward changes. The world concentrates only on what is outward, which doesn’t last… but God desires that we are totally changed from within; from our soul, spirit and mind and this will last forever. As Christians, we should concentrate on what is inside of us… who we are, and what God created us to be… not on material things such as beauty, wealth, power, fame and our minds should be in tune with God’s will. Our way of thinking and how we see the world should be totally different from how the world views.
It is so unfortunate that many of us die when we have not reached or achieved our dreams; visions and purposes in life for which we were created for simply because at one point or another, we conform to the standards of the world rather than us being renewed each and every day to see things in a ne dimension and thus in the long run, we lose focus on what we are supposed to be focused on and our passion is quenched. Take a look at the people in the bible. Many of them were faced with severe challenges some of them warranting death if they did not comply or conform to what was demanded of them; yet they all stood their grounds and held on to what and in whom they believed and god saw them through.
Take a look and the four Jewish boys in Babylon; Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel also known as Belteshazzar in Daniel 1. When they are taken captive in Babylon, the king was looking for fin young men o serve in his palace and these four young men found favour and they were chosen. They were to be given a special diet with the delicacies that were being served at the kings table. The bible tells us that Daniel “determined in his heart that he would not defile himself by [eating his portion of] the king’s rich and dainty food or by [drinking] the wine which he drank…” Daniel 1:8. You will see later that they were healthier than those who were eating from the kings table. Yet they were feeding on vegetables and water. The four of them could have taken advantage and fed on the delicacies from the kings table bearing in mind that they had not had such food for a while since they were captives or slaves in Babylon yet, they were purposed not to conform.
In Daniel 3, we see them again still holding on. There is a fiery furnace that is lit and everyone who doesn’t bow to the image that the king had erected would be throne there. But they still remain focused. See what they tell the king: "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up." Daniel 3:16-18 See the courage and determination in these young men but how many of us can dare to risk their faith nowadays and stand on their faith and risk their lives depending on God? They said… even if God doesn’t save us, let it be known to you that we will not serve your gods… you will realize that when most of us are faced with similar challenges in our places or work or life, we tend to give in fast so as to save our lives and we fail to trust in God.
As the story unfolds, we see that the eunuchs were not satisfied with the favour that these four young men were receiving. Little did they know that the favour was not from the king but from God. They go ahead and conspire against Daniel in regards to his prayer time. But Daniel unshaken, he goes into his house at his usual hours; opens the windows wide and lifts up his hands in prayer as he was used to. (Daniel 6:10.) How many of us compromise our Christian disciplines simply because there is something that has been said to us or someone has threatened us? Are you jobless and the only option you have so as to get that job is either to bribe or give in to sexual demands and offers so as to gain your job or retain the same job? It is time you got transformed and renewed and stood to your ground and on what and whom you believe in.
I could go on and on and speak of Esther. She decided that she wouldn’t be like another queen as others were. She stood in the gap for his people who were on the verge of being finished. She said… “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." Esther 4:16. She was not going to be deterred by the laws that were placed but she was ready and willing to die for her people rather than sit there and see them perish while she could do something. How many of us sit back and see our brethren suffering and perishing while we stand in a place where we are able to step in and help? Let us cease to be selfish minding of me, myself and I issues. Let us rise up and be counted upon. Look at Joseph. His masters’ wife saw the glory of God being radiated in his handsomeness and she wants to sleep with him; but Joseph knowing who he was he told her “my master does not concern with anything in the house because I am in-charge lest the food that he eats. I have access to everything I need and he has withheld nothing from me except you. How then, could I violate his trust and sin against God?" Genesis 39:8-9. Joseph could have taken the chance to sleep with Portiphar’s wife as there was no one to see them but he knew God in heaven was a witness to what he was doing.
How many times have we betrayed the trust that God has in us? How many times have you given in to demands that have made you conform to the standards of this world rather than you being transformed and transforming those around you? Jesus asked; will the son of Man meet faith in us when he comes back? (Luke18:8). Will God find you hold onto the faith when he comes back? Paul encouraged the Hebrews and told them: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3.
Are you ready to throw away anything that hinders you from being who you are in Christ? What are the things that entangle you that you are not able to hold onto this faith or make you compromise? What are the things that pull you back or draw you back to sin? What is that that separates you from your maker? Today, as you and I go on with the schedules of this day, I want us to answer this question that Paul asked: “Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 38-39.