(Click for Part 1 here) If you ask me to pray for you, you should know that this is what I’m going to say…
. That every thing in your life happening right now will conform you to Christ.
Conformity, like humility, is a bad word in our culture today. We hate it. It’s gross. It’s old-fashioned and smells like mildew. We’ve been given a steady diet of “be yourself” and “be unique” and “you can be anything you want to be.” These aren’t awful messages in themselves, but, much of the time, we get the simplistic Disney-fied versions that are actually quite damaging in profound ways. But Disney messages are another blog for another day. (Don’t hold your breath. But I do love a lot of Disney movies just for the record. Not always a huge fan of the moral to the story, but they are entertaining. moving on…)
So what does it mean to be conformed to Christ? It sounds lame. I think that’s because some of us growing up in the evangelical fundie world think it means to be conformed to other Christians. It starts out like this in bible school when we learn about all the great “heroes” of the faith in the stories of the bible. We think we just have to be like them. Well, the good parts of them. And then life will be great. And we’ll get blessings, just like them.
Then, as we grow up (and we subsequently realize that these heroes kiiiiinda screw up big time) we start to look for other people to emulate. Or, actually, people start telling us that we aren’t emulating the right people. That’s more like it.
For some, “discipleship” really means “cloning.” We want to make you look and act and think like every other Christian we know. As you mature in your faith, you will be more and more like Christ, which is really saying you will be more like us. Or vice versa. It’s the same to us.
This is where the unique and snowflake models make sense. We know that God has fashioned every individual and each of us has a unique and beautiful soul, image, personality, physicality, and we celebrate that. There is room for all of it. There is room for God to use each of us in our own skin, as is, for His glory. What we need to focus on is not the outward appearances, but the heart. Our culture tends to be pretty literal readers, so outward appearance often just means what you look like. Maybe it also means just behaving. Maybe you never get into any real trouble. You play by the rules, and when you don’t, you don’t get caught. Maybe it means you just stay under the radar and everyone just thinks you’re doing ok because you’re not visibly doing poorly. But you know. Or maybe even you don’t because you just want to keep everything copacetic and don’t want to move out of the comfort zone you’ve built so incredibly well.
Ok, just one Disney story. Frozen. It was a fun movie. Had wonderful, charming moments. But man oh man, I got angry at some really horrific parenting! So – I guess this is a spoiler if you’ve been living under a ROCK – Elsa has powers over ice, I think, not still 100% sure because she made that dress so I assume she made an ice dress? Anyways… So the advice her father gave her was to CONCEAL, don’t feel. Yep. Basically, conform and try to be like everyone else. And, oh, don’t be scared because that makes it worse. Got that? You’re good? Ok. Well, just stay in your room forever because that will work.
We all knew it was crazy wrong, right? But then, what was the opposite of that? Let it go. The ubiquitous song aside, it was faulty thinking. I’m going to just be who I am and too bad for everyone else. You stay over there, I’ll stay over here, and no one will get hurt. We also know that didn’t work out so well either.
If we are growing into the likeness of Jesus, we are addressing the heart issues. We are getting to the roots of why we act, behave, think, express/not express, the ways we do. We are willing to take a deep, hard and even harsh look at ourselves and ask why. How are my actions fueled by my heart? We learn that (um spoiler?) Elsa’s powers are fueled by fear and love. Love thaws. Yay for love. And all is right in the world again. Until Frozen 2… when Heat Miser sets his sights on Rivendell. I mean Arendelle. Moving on…
The character traits deeply rooted in my soul express themselves in behaviors and patterns that can be destructive to me and those around me. These traits are the anti-fruits, the rotten fruits – M the opposites of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control: like hatefulness, jealousy, bitterness, anger, criticism, deceitfulness, harshness, indulgence.
Getting rid of these rotten fruits is hard work. It’s so much a part of the air we breathe. Just identifying it in ourselves can be brutal, because we are clinging to them as part of our personality, our habits. When they are so ingrained in us, our attitudes, our thought patterns, these rotten fruits are hard to purge, and as a result, conformity to Christ will be painful and destructive. It will hurt. It will be damaging to your life. Things will get overturned and chaotic. Everything will drive you to the brink and you will need to make a choice. What am I trying to be? Who do I want to be? What will being who I currently am bring me and those around me? What would it look like to be what I was made to be?
Be a unique Christian. That should be a redundant statement. Each unique, but conformed. Like mirrors that all reflect the image of Jesus, but are each lovely in their own way.
It’s my prayer for me, for my husband, for my kids, for those I love, that we will begin to see the conforming and transforming power of Jesus, who will take all the uniqueness and beauty in us and bring about His goodness and glory in redeeming and restoring our lives right here, right now. He designed us, each of us, and he will use every part of us to bring about his kingdom. He will take everything that makes you unique, and redeem it. It will be used to change you, conform you, to something even more fantastic than you can imagine. All your interests, hobbies, passions, pursuits, loves, desires, dreams, they will all work together for your good and His glory, as you turn them over to Him and let Him “do the magic.” Please, God, do the magic.