Conformed or Transformed

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.

– Romans 12:1-2

Those are the options

To be conformed

Or to be transformed

If we are not being transformed

We are being conformed

Staying in neutral not an option

For we cannot serve two masters

The world seeks to conform me every day

Billboards and ads try to get me to buy

The things that they say will make me happy

The things everyone else has

Social media pressures me to think like the echo chamber

Individuals unfriending those who do not agree with them

As we become more and more polarized

And yet more and more the same

The world tells me only one shape and size and age

Has value

And truth be told I’ve started to believe it

Surely attractive people have more to contribute to the world

Than unattractive ones

I made fun of Jonathan the other day

Breaking the social contract

As everyone in the dentist’s waiting room

Stared at glowing rectangles

But he, phoneless, looked around the room

Seeking someone to engage

He’s always loved conversations with strangers

I laugh

Accusing him of seeming like a serial killer

Just stare at your phone like everyone else

Pretending we are each an island

And others do not really exist


We are told to be transformed

Made new

Not like everyone else

A conformed person shouts at the ref at games

Rationalizes that nasty comment on social media

Lies on his taxes

A conformed person befriends only those who can help them succeed

Gets upset when they are overlooked at work

And watches every new show on Netfllix, no matter how much sex or violence

We are adults after all

We can do what we want

But what of a transformed person?

One who lets go of an offense

Offers mercy, not judgement

Speaks the truth even when it hurts

Befriends those who cannot repay

Overlooks an insult

Turns off the television when it harms their spirit

I am convicted

If I am not being transformed

I am being conformed

Both our bodies and our minds

Are mentioned in this passage

We present our bodies

And renew our minds

I think of a soldier presenting herself for duty

Or a juror presenting himself for his summons

Your time no longer your own

For the duration of your service

It belongs to someone else

That rankles us as Americans

So used to our independence

The idea of submission galls

The pro-choice mantra of “my body, my choice” stands in stark contrast

Yet are we really so different?

Do we give up our preferences for another’s?

Do we choose silence over many words?

Do we abstain from that which is not good for us?

Or do we rather indulge at every corner

So often I’m concerned with my own comforts

My use of my time

I do not like to be interrupted

I do not enjoy deviating from my list or my priorities

But if we are actually in service to the king

If we have offered ourselves as living sacrifices

the choice is not ours

It is His

Worship is not sitting comfortably on Sunday morning

Listening to the pleasant music

Hearing the words of the pastor

As one would hear a story on the news

Passive and unchanging

Worship is battle

The front lines

Taking a bullet for another

Navigating land mines

Disciplining ourselves for the fight

All in

Offering my body and mind in service to the King of Kings

My mind is renewed

When I listen to His voice

When Scripture is the sieve

Through which I pour every decision

Even the small ones

Like what shall I watch on TV?

Or will I choose to stare at my phone or engage with that stranger?

The one who looks like she might need a friend?

God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect

Obviously it is good and perfect

Because God himself is those things

But it is also pleasing

Pleasing not just to God but to us

For I was made to worship

And in doing that which I was made to do

There is a joy that comes no other way

Joy in service and in sacrifice

Joy in doing something differently than the world does it

For if I am not being transformed

I am being conformed

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