Friday, August 14, 2009

In This World, But Not Of It

What does it mean to be "in this world but not of it"? That is a phrase that we have heard time and time again, and yet we seem to go in the other direction, letting our lives get more and more complicated with our jobs, ever burdening community obligations, bigger homes, more elaborate furnishings, the newest version of whatever technology is available, whatever new trend, more stuff, more debt...more, more, more...bigger, bigger, bigger. It has become the acceptable way of the world, where we actually look at those who are not so outwardly achievement oriented as "unmotivated" or beneath us. Our economy is now stressed by a false prosperity that was propelled by people buying more than they could afford, getting into more debt than they could keep up with, working just to pay bills, living to buy the next gadget or appliance that would make their lives complete.

We have become accustomed to getting our satisfaction from worldly things, worldly achievements, possessions, and accolades. We work hard to "get ahead" (ahead of what?, I must ask...the train that is about to run us over?!). On a spiritual level, we often seek usual and ordinary remedies to our emptiness, believing that going to church and following the rules will get us fulfillment, not asking for a real and un-worldly experience that has nothing to do with groups, buildings, organization, or conformity, but which is more about our higher self and greater purpose - that which is beyond the ordinary, beyond the patterns of the world.

Romans 12:2 tells us,
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(New International Version)

It does not take much observation to realize that most of us have seriously conformed to the patterns of this world, whether it be the patterns that our parents gave us, the patterns we adopted by looking around and trying to fit in and be successful, or the patterns of trying to be "good". In our society, it is almost impossible not to conform to these patterns. This Biblical passage tell us to instead, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind", but we don't really renew our mind with new thoughts, and chose instead to stick with our patterns for achieving hard, go to school, go to church, volunteer. We don't realize, or perhaps we choose to ignore, that the worldly patterns will not lead us to true and deep happiness.

It is not until we seek to renew our minds that we can truly transform. The choice is always ours as to whether we CONform or TRANSform, but we cannot do both. When we are ready to transform, we must give up conformity. We must open our minds to things outside of the norms and be willing to risk being different, to step outside of ordinary to be extraordinary.

If we are indeed made by God, do you think he made us to be ordinary or extraordinary? I think he made each and every one of us to be perfect, fabulous, joyous, and beautiful beings. It is simply our choice to conform that keeps us from transforming into our extraordinary existence. The steps to transformation are as simple as looking at things differently - sometimes even opposite of what you have been taught or programmed to believe. It may sound difficult, but if you really want a transformation, you will be given opportunities to make it, and they will not be as hard as you might imagine, because each step will reward you with moments of pure and perfect peace. Just ask, and be willing to make changes to be in this world, but not of it. Your transformation will begin when your conformity ends.

No comments: