Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
I’ve been a Christ-follower for 31 years; I get it. If you’ve known Christ and the scriptures for any length of time, I think you get it, too. We’re not supposed to be like the world. We’re not to allow the world to squeeze us into its image, an image that is counter to the beauty of Christ.
But what happens when it isn’t the world that’s squeezing us? What happens when the squeeze of conformity is coming from family? Whether family by birth, or our family by spiritual affinity, what happens when conformity to the norm trumps conformity to Christ?
Have you ever lived there? I have!
I’ve lived in that awful place where the fear of the always pervasive “They” in my life has taken preeminence over transformation by the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and most importantly, All-Loving Him. I’ve allowed timid people-pleasing to take the priority position in my decisions, relationships, actions, and dreams.
At those times, my life has become overwhelmed by the “They” questions.
“What will They think?”
“What will They do?”
“What if They disapprove?”
The “They” questions are never ending and all-consuming.
When I live in the fear of “They,” I’m not free to follow God. When I live in the fear of “They,” I’m handcuffed by others’ expectations and shackled by the uncertainty of the repercussions of not following the crowd.
As a mom, fear of the “They” causes me to limit my children’s lives because of the imposed standards of folks who aren’t their parents. The only fruit achieved from those types of “They”-centered decisions is bitterness, disappointment, and the development of legalistic rule-followers with hearts that are wounded and discouraged.
As a woman, meeting the others-imposed standards of the “They” lifestyle sometimes makes me feel as though I’m losing my mind.
I remember one night in particular… After an afternoon of apple picking, I faced the choice of wearing jeans to the evening service or running home to change into a “They” approved outfit, while risking being late to church.
I chose the jeans.
Now please understand, these weren’t low-rise, acid washed, hole-filled, drag on the floor jeans. No, these were your basic “Mom” jeans, unattractive, but clean and utilitarian.
That night, I had several women express their displeasure at my wardrobe choice. "They" made a point to stop and scold me. Somehow, my choice of jeans had limited their worship. “They” were not happy and “They” let me know it!
At the same time, a dear military wife thanked me for wearing my jeans. She told me that for the first time since joining the church, she felt like she fit in. My jeans made her feel comfortable and she was free to worship.
I felt like my head was going to explode!
The truth I learned that night about pleasing all the “Theys” was this…
There is no pleasing all the “Theys”!
More importantly, we’re not called to please them. We’re called to walk faithfully with God. We’re called to search the scriptures and make decisions that bring honor and glory to Christ. We’re called to be obedient to the Spirit within.
The only “They” we need to please is the triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When I’m busy pleasing my God, I can allow the “Theys” to slip into the background of oblivion. If I’m busy pleasing them, it is God who takes the backseat.
I’m tired of living my life squeezed into someone else’s mold.
How about you?
Instead of being squeezed, and heaven forbid, squeezing others, let’s spend our days faithfully following Christ and fervently encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same.
No more mold-squeezing conformity; let’s change the world with our Christ-imitating transformation!