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 12:2).
An old Spanish saying goes, tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are.
Obviously, this is not always true, but it does alert us to the great influence that friends and people around us have on us.
If we spend a lot of time together, we end up sticking to each other’s forms, styles, expressions…
And this is like a snowball that grows bigger and bigger. Because, once you start to develop a particular lifestyle, you prefer to surround yourself with people who share it, as they reaffirm to us that we are on the right side.
This is a consequence of what is known in psychology as confirmation bias. I look for what confirms my ideas or beliefs and reject what contradicts them, even if they are proven facts.
Thus, it is not surprising that we find people who define themselves as goths, rappers, hipsters, hippies, emos, swaggers…. And so on to complete a long list of what are known as urban tribes; which are nothing more than groups of people who share an aesthetic and a particular point of view of life.
However, do not think that this is something that only happens in this era, nor that it only occurs in the secular world. This is something that has always happened, and it also happens in the church, although we will talk about it on another occasion.
But the truth is that this sense of security that the sense of belonging to a group transmits to us is something that pressures us in such a way that it can make us abandon our previous way of life, and even our principles.
And this pressure is especially intense in situations where being outside the group is not advisable.
In Paul’s time being a Christian was very dangerous. Religion was an essential pillar of the identity of each people. Not sharing it was a sign that you were a foreigner, if not an enemy.
Therefore, no matter where a Christian was, he was always going to be seen as a danger; and the temptation for them to “adapt” in order to go unnoticed was very strong.
The problem is that once a Christian has “adapted to this world” he also begins to let this new vision of life mark his thinking.
And so, he feels more and more comfortable in the middle of the world and with that way of looking at life. Until the day comes when, almost without realizing it, he has stopped following Christ.
That is why when Paul writes to the Romans he leaves them the warning that we find in chapter 12 and verse 2 of that letter: 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.
If we are to be witnesses and messengers of the Gospel, we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by ideas or concepts that oppose or despise God’s principles.
Because it is not about passing through this world anonymously, but quite the opposite. We need to be referents to others of what God is, and what He can do in the lives of people who accept His lordship and forgiveness.
That is why the apostle Paul exhorts us to make a firm decision for God. Thus, he asks us not to adopt the principles and values of this world that are in contradiction with divine principles and values. Because this is the best decision a person can make.
It is true that in some cases the values of this world may seem very suggestive and logical, especially for our personal interests.
However, these are against the principles by which God wants us to abide, and in Matthew 5, verses 43 to 48, Jesus makes this very clear: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
That is why Paul asks us to strive to live God’s principles, to renew our old way of thinking and to go deep into God’s Word to know them, because in this way we will also learn to know God’s will for us, good, pleasing and perfect.
And only in this way will we be able to reach the end of our lives on this earth knowing that an ample entrance into heaven is reserved for us.
May God bless you
Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash
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