For part of my childhood, I lived in a small Maryland town. Since I was so young when I lived there I don’t have many memories, but I do have one that is probably my favorite memory of all time, and that is catching monarch caterpillars, and releasing them when they transform into monarch butterflies. Thinking back on that now, I am grateful for my own transformation process when I decided wholeheartedly to serve the Lord.
Romans 12:2 says “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 that God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The conduct of a believer is based on the input from the world or input from God, which determines if you live victoriously or in defeat.
The world puts on so much pressure to be a certain way. There have been times that I caught myself wishing I was more like other people. More physically fit, more wealthy, wishing I had a bigger home, a better car. The list goes on. Even certain friendships in my life would feel like a competition, because envy is a characteristic of the world. We live in a time where people no longer look to God to fulfill their needs but instead look to influencers, or people that put on the appearance of a ‘once in a lifetime-lifestyle” What we read from Paul in Romans is just as useful now as it was then, if not more. Renewing your mind is essential to withstanding the pressure to conform to the world.
James 4:4 says “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Now this doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to enjoy things in the world we have been given, God wants us to enjoy His blessings and creation, however, Galatians 5:13 says “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” We should not use our time and freedom to pursue worldly gain but rather, following in the footsteps of Jesus, spreading the love of God.
Fighting the pressure to conform to the world is so hard, and we must choose to resist sin every moment of every day. No doubt there is temporary happiness in worldly things, we have to remember they are just that. Temporary. The world tells you in order to be happy, in order to be successful, you have to be a certain way. You have to have certain things. You have to fit into the mold of the flesh. Isn’t it great that with God, there is no standard? We are loved regardless of our ranking in society.
Though when the times come where the world is knocking at my door, and I catch myself wishing or wanting, Matthew reminds me in chapter 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”