“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 12:2)
One of the greatest challenges of being a Christian is living in a culture with so many negative influences, while not giving in to these influences. Just because our culture might adopt something like slavery, racism, sexism, abortion, etc. and say it is ok, does not make it ok. Paul’s command in Romans 12:2 is for Christians to have our minds transformed by the word of God so that we will be able to recognize what is right and what is not. Our ability to do this distinguishes us from the rest of the world and allows us to become the holy community God expects us to be.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus calls us to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14-16). He expects us to be leaders, not followers. We are to be examples of how to live. We are not to follow the world in ways that demean, devalue, or even destroy human life. If we fail at this, we have no one to blame but ourselves. This call to live as a unique people who resist evil cultural influences is one that God assigned His people from the very beginning. Israel was expected to be unique among the nations. When they began to act like the nations around them, God held them accountable and they were punished.
Cultural influences can be quite strong and influential, but our love for God and His truth should be stronger. This is serious issue because many of the evil cultural influences we are tempted by cause harm to others. People are enslaved. People are treated as less than human. People are treated as objects and abused. People are even put to death. God will have none of this! We cannot praise God with our lips and then mistreat people who are created in His image. As God’s people, we must love our neighbors no matter what the culture around us is doing. God has called us to be unique, to be set apart, to go against the grain of our culture. Lead by example this week.