Conformity, Transformation, and Renewal

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” — Romans 12:2

Today, in the midst of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, the US is dealing with a lot of uncertainty, not to mention the upcoming presidential election in November. Social media has made people feel more empowered to speak their mind on issues that may not directly affect them. With the click of a button, simply posting an article on your own profile can warrant unwanted comments and opinions. (Facebook does not have a ‘no comments’ setting available on posts, unlike YouTube.)

I don’t know about you, but I feel bombarded by a constant stream of negativity and judgment simply scrolling through my news feed, and not just on Facebook. The same feeling overwhelms me when scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. I just keep wondering, what does the Bible say about all of this? Obviously social media wasn’t a thing then. But now social media seems to take up much of our time.

The verse above is such a powerful verse because it asks us to resist, to not conform, to be transformed by the renewal our minds.

Think about that for a moment.

As an introvert, I can get stuck in my own mind sometimes. This usually happens when negative thoughts and feelings overwhelm me, so much so that I can become anxious or depressed. But over the years, I have learned to recognize the early signs. If I get stuck in my head too much, a few things can help bring me out of it. One of those is simply meditating. Now, when you think of meditation the image of a Buddhist monk meditating on a mountain might come to mind. But really, meditation in its simplest form is focusing on your breathing.

Just that alone helps recenter my mind, clearing out the clutter, so that I can bring in positive thoughts.

I think social media can make people feel pressured to do or say certain things, or else they believe they will be judged.

As Christians, we have to discern what is the will of God — what is good, acceptable, and perfect.

Despite how we feel about an issue, God calls us to set aside our feelings, set aside what we think we should be doing (because everyone else is doing it) and be transformed through the renewal of our minds. The only way we can renew our minds is by reading the Bible and following God’s commands.

My SheReadsTruth Bible says this, “Fasting, prayer, Bible study — they’re all disciplines that renew our minds and refresh our spirits. But they’re different from a resolution, a diet, or an exercise regimen because they aren’t sustained in our own willpower. Instead, spiritual disciplines are rooted in the Spirit’s work in us. God is the Giver. We are the recipients. He empowers. We surrender. Whatever our personality, no matter how God created us, we are all his image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-27). Spiritual disciplines are gifts from our loving Father to make us more like Him.”

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

It’s so easy to believe that people are inherently bad and evil and that no one can truly care about you. But there is good in the world. And as Christians, God calls us to love everyone. Not just the people who look like us or think like us. He wants us to love those who hate us, too (Matthew 5:43-48). It sounds easy, but the next time someone pisses you off with a Facebook post, or a stranger cuts you off on the highway, remind yourself of these verses.

The Pharisees were always trying to trip Jesus up and catch him doing something wrong. But Jesus loved them anyway. He told them the truth, and he let them decide for themselves what they thought. He didn’t try to force his way with them. As tempting as it may be to argue on Facebook over an opinion we don’t agree with, God calls us to do more.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “As Christians we must never surrender our supreme loyalty to any time-bound custom or earth-bound idea, for at the heart of our universe is a higher reality — God and his kingdom of love — to which we must be conformed.”

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Romans 12:2