When I was a child, my little brother asked who would win if a mountain lion attacked a horse. Well, about a month ago we found out that the Broncos defeated the Panthers in the Super Bowl. Imagine that you were a Broncos' fan, but you had been invited to go to the super bowl by a group of friends who were die hard Panthers fans. They agreed to give you a ticket and to pay your way to the game as long as you wore a Panthers jersey to the game.
You still wanted the Broncos to win, but you did not want to pass up the chance to go to the Super Bowl, so you conformed to their request. Wearing the jersey did not turn you into a Panthers fan, but it got you into the game.
You were not actually transformed into a Panthers fan, you simply conformed to your friends request. How does this fit into the issue of faith? Christianity should not be about being conformed to some outward appearance or even conformed to some set of ideas, but rather to being transformed by Christ. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NASB)
Obviously Christians should not be conformed to the sinful behaviors of the world, but what if we are simply conformed to the idea of presenting ourselves as Christians without actually having an inward transformation? Christ had to address this very issue when He says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25 NASB) The scribes and Pharisees were conforming on the outside, but inside there was no transformation. They were conforming both to an external appearance to be seen of other men, and also to a set of rules and standards drawn up by man. The problem was not with their zeal to obey God, but rather a zeal to follow man's standards while rejecting God's. Sadly that is still what happens today when religious people focus on conforming to religious expectations rather than being transformed by God.
True transformation should have an affect on our lives. In the Matthew passage Jesus next says, Mt 23:26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” (NASB) True transformation should cause the Christian to conform to God's standards, but simply conforming gets men stuck in ritual rather than renewal.
If you really become a Panthers fan, you will want to promote that team. It will be transformation rather than conformation. If you think that Christianity is simply going through the motions of religious expectation, you do not understand transformation. Christianity is about realizing you are a sinner in need of forgiveness. It is about changing direction in your life to follow Jesus Christ. It is realizing that He is your only hope for forgiveness. At that point old things are become new and you are completely transformed from a lost sinner on his way to the lake of fire, to a Christian saint who is now following the risen Savior.
Conforming is about following people. Christian transformation is about following and obeying Christ no matter what people think. Please visit www.southtownchurch.com.