Romans 12:2-3 “Do not conform any longer 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 is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
Romans 12 verse 2 was one of the first verses I memorized as a child. I had no idea what it truly meant. It wasn’t until after I went through my “desert experience” in my marriage that I understood the meaning.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world.” Conform means to imitate, follow, adapt. There was a time in our society, not so long ago, where Christians stood out from the people “of the world”. That is not the case anymore. Many churches have relaxed their teachings, delivering a “feel good” message so as to expand their numbers. They turn a blind eye to the worldly behavior in the congregation. And so, the line between Christians and non-Christians has become blurry with too many believers acting like non-believers. Anyone can say they believe, but are they walking the walk to have a relationship with Jesus?
It is extremely difficult to walk the straight and narrow path to the cross. We have to live in this world and our flesh wants to be a part of it. We face a spiritual battle every day to conform to the world. Even when we think we have figured it out, one little word or incident can send us reeling into our sinful flesh.
What’s even worse is that we look at many areas of the world that aren’t sinful, and we think that it’s okay to engage in them. That’s fine and dandy; we do have to “live”. But the problem lies with the panoply of choices vying for our time and attention, and our flesh wants to do it all. Everyone else does, right?
Life becomes a silent competition with ourselves to keep up with everyone else. Suddenly, our waking hours are filled with continuous activities, and we no longer have enough time for God or our own families. It’s even worse when there are children involved because we want them to experience all they can. Running off to activities every night and driving through McDonalds for dinner is not quality living.
The world has us convinced that the more activities in the lives of our children, the more balanced they will be as adults. This is a lie from the devil. Oh, wait a second, doesn’t he rule the world? It’s his plan to keep us from God and to keep us from developing a healthy, functional family. Just like marriage, you can’t have a healthy family if you aren’t spending time together. Sitting in front of the television with computers and smartphones in hand does not make quality time either.
I was just as guilty of getting caught up in worldly activities when my children were younger. The closer I grew to God, though, the more I realized how unhealthy this lifestyle was for my family. I limited my children to two activities, and dinner time as a family at the table became a staple for us. My most precious memories as a family are those when we were all together just talking.
Conversation and quality time builds up the intimacy that too many families are missing these days. If you aren’t spending time with your children teaching them the values you want to pass on to them, someone else in the world is doing it for you. If you’re not tied tightly into a church where your children are active, what they are learning from the world is drawing them farther and farther from the truth of God.
More to come on conforming...