Last week I started a three part series, based on the High Priestly Prayer, on our mission in the world. Last week, we discussed why as followers of Jesus, we should not remove ourselves from the world. Today, we will discuss why we should not conform to the world.
While we should not withdraw, we should also not conform. There is no better scripture to base this one than Romans 12:1-2, a classic verse.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Notice we are not to do something, but instead something is given for us to do. What is that?
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
How does this occur?
The mind is one of the keys to the Christian life that we don’t talk about because we talk about the “heart” in our western culture so much.
From scripture we know these things:
A non-Christian does not respond to Christian truth positively because they cannot discern spiritual truth apart from the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:14). The Gospel calls the unbeliever to repent of his sin and embrace Christ by faith. The Greek word for repentance carries the idea of a “change of mind”. Our thinking must be changed from old, ungodly ways into new Godly ways. What we know to be true by the teaching of the Holy Spirit forms a conviction in our hearts and that truth, that conviction in our hearts translates into MISSION. And that is what we are to be. Not people who withdraw from the world, not people who conform to the world, but people who are on mission, in a foreign land, TO the World. And that foreign land could be flying half way around the world, or it could be equally as much as walking across the hall at your apartment complex to your neighbor. As we do that, we are to look different. Our hope is not in fleshly things. Our hope is not in the next President. Our hope is not in how much money is in our bank account. Our hope is not in anything-BUT JESUS. And that looks very different to an unbelieving world who are striving for worldly rewards.
Are we people who are claiming Christ but striving for worldly rewards?
Look at verse 17. Jesus prays that God would Sanctify them in your truth; Your Word is truth.
To Sanctify means to set apart for a special or Holy purpose. Followers of Christ-you are a set apart people, unique. And your call is not to conform to the world and look just like it. God has brought you where you are for more than just your gain. He has brought you there for his glory and to be used by him with joy!
Take a look at I Peter 2:11-12: Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
So we are not a people who are to look like the world. We are a set apart people. We are a people that are called to something. But notice in I Peter 2 that it says that WHEN they speak of you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.
So as our culture becomes more and more unfriendly toward the Gospel, what are we to do? We are to SERVE the culture. We are to LOVE the culture. We are to do GOOD DEEDS. Not to earn anything. Not to be self righteous and be proud of ourselves. We are to do this, so that God may receive glory! And through this-you probably, and along with your congregation, or your small group, will never receive glory? Are you ok with that? Are you truly ok with not receiving glory and God receiving it?
If we make these decisions based upon fear-all we will do is hold up in a closet and hide from the world or we will look way too much like the world. and God does not call us to live this way.
Next week, we will finish up with our third part of our series, looking at our true call as Christians living in the world (and we have already hinted at it-MISSION).
To God Be The Glory.
Matthew is 34 years old and currently lives in St Louis, Missouri with his wife Leslie. He serves as the Associate Pastor at The Groves Church, in Webster Groves, Missouri.