“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2.
Romans 12:2 is one of the best known verses in the Bible. We are warned that there are forces competing for our attention and loyalty and that even Christians are at times torn between the two. Conformity is an ever-present danger as it has the potential to affect us in several ways: We can actively pursue the world and worldliness or we can simply be passive and allow the world a slow but steady eroding influence.
The first way to be conformed to the world, then, is to be drawn to it, to be enamored by it and to imitate it. It can be subtle, slowly, where we are slowly squeezed in the world’s mold, one little crank at a time. We become conformed to the world by just lowering our guard, by neglecting to maintain a watchful demeanor, by failing to hold an offensive posture against the encroachment of the world. It can happen so slowly and gradually that we might not even notice some of the changes as they are taking place. But then one day, it is difficult to distinguish the Christian from the world. That could have happened to Daniel but did not. In fact, Daniel showed incredible courage and faithfulness.
When the Jewish teenagers were brought to Babylon, the initial goal was to isolate them from their homeland, family, and friends. The Babylonian strategy was to seize upon their vulnerability once they were separated from all that was familiar. Over time, they would be more likely to abandon their faith and become like the Babylonians. The second goal was to indoctrinate them. The plan was to enroll the young men in an educational school for three years to indoctrinate them in Babylonian ways (v. 4-5). The third goal was assimilation, where the Jewish teenagers would be totally immersed into the world of Babylon. After these three steps, Daniel and his friends would be totally conformed to the Babylonian culture. Things did not go according to plan, however, because Daniel and his friends did not compromise in matters of the faith.
Right now many of you may be facing a situation similar to Daniel’s. You’ve just started college or moved to a new town or started a new job. You’re in a different environment–maybe even a different culture. Everything’s changed. No one seems to talk about the Lord. Christians are definitely in the minority. “Home” is so far away. The pressure to conform to the new group is so great. It is so easy to compromise “just a little” in the faith. In those circumstances, dare to be a Daniel. Yes, it will be hard and costly and gutsy and you could find yourself on an island all alone occasionally. The temptation to compromise, conform, lower your standards a little bit will be compelling. Remember Daniel and the faithfulness of God.
- Each believer is either a conformer or a transformer. Agree or disagree and why?
- How does this story apply to your life today?