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Learning how to be in the world, but not of the world can be one of the most challenging parts of the Christian life – but it might just be a key to finding out God’s perfect and pleasing will for your life!
“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2
In other words, don’t give in to peer pressure. Don’t follow trends just because they’re popular, or sacrifice your morals to fit in.
It’s easier said than done.
Especially right now. Especially with social media, with capitalism and celebrity obsession. We’re living in a broken world, there’s no doubt, and so often we feel like we are just one person. That, on top of getting good grades, a job, attending church and keeping our lives together, the expectation to fight the tides of the whole world too can seem too much.
Learning how to be in the world, but not of it, is one of the most challenging parts of Christianity. But it’s also one that is the quickest way to a satisfying, joyful and Christ-filled life.
We’re all pretty familiar with the patterns of this world. It’s the way things are, the systems of society that dictate the way people dress, how they talk or behave. Propagated by anything and everything from films, social media, advertising, friends or celebrities. Now in his letter to the Romans, Paul isn’t hating on Snapchat streaks or buying a pair of shoes that are in style. What he is warning us about is the way that society can often lead us away from the will of God, in a slow and subtle way.
And it’s hard because we live in a world that makes sin look normal; makes it look fashionable and fulfilling and appealing. Gossip, consumerism, lying, social media, shopping, sex, drinking. Yes, these are just things or acts, and it’s easy to lie to ourselves and say that they don’t have an impact. ‘It’s fine if I party hard Friday night, if I make it to church Sunday’, ‘I only say certain cuss words’, ‘I’m going this far with my partner because everyone else does’.
We can self-justify as much as we like, but in the end, we’re only cheating ourselves out of a fully committed relationship with our Father. Because the fact is that this advice, like most in the Bible, isn’t shared to constrain us, but help us live the best life. God knew that the patterns of this world would never fulfill that need in your heart for love, acceptance, and appreciation. Because that is something that only comes from following God’s will.
Paul then goes on to say that you must allow God to transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Transformation. It’s a pretty weighty word and one used for a particular reason because change is temporary, but transformation is forever. See, the word transformation isn’t passive or weak, it’s dynamic and strong and most importantly: absolute. Because God wants to transform you in an extraordinary and permanent way. He wants you to fulfill a purpose so much bigger and wonderful than this earthly world. But just like Paul says, if you truly want to change the earthly way you live your life, you have to start from the inside out; with the renewing of your mind.
See at the end of the day, you will never influence the world, by trying to be like it. Paul calls it the patterns of the world because that is what you become when you follow society, just another carbon copy of popular culture. Something that Jesus certainly didn’t settle for during his time on earth and neither should we.
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”– 1 Corinthians 15:33
The Bible often speaks about the influence that your company has on you, whether it’s family, friends or co-workers. Just like Paul shares in 1 Corinthians, people have a very strong impact on how you live life, depending on whether they encourage and inspire you… or pressure and dispirit you. Are you surrounding yourself with people that support and challenge your faith? Who hold you accountable to the values and morals of a Christian life and celebrates you as you are? Or do you often feel stressed and drained by friends who are negative or encourage you towards sinful behavior?
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34
Time. It’s the thing we all wish we had more of, and how we spend it says a lot about the sort of life we live. Just like how you reap what you sow, how you spend time will dictate what your life looks like. Where is your treasure at the moment? Where are you finding joy and investing time? Is it in daily prayer, reading the bible or attending church group events? Or is it perhaps in worldly things, like gossiping, consuming media, or work/university?
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” – Colossians 3:16
The final way that we can start to rebel against the patterns of the world is through the truths that we surround ourselves with and believe. Every day we are confronted with thousands of different messages from society, media and people, that can encourage us toward earthly behaviors and ways that separate us from our Father. However, if we follow the advice in Colossians 3:16, and actively pursue the message of God, then our hearts and minds will be filled with wisdom. Making it easier to discern between the will of the world and that of the Father.
So challenge yourself this week, write down one of the three that you’re going to focus on, and how you might work towards diverging from the common and popular, and be a rebel for God.
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