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. (Rom 12:2)
This attractive piece of sculpture is actually a mold - you know, like one of the things they pour soap into to make all those cute things your wife likes at Crabtree and Evelyn. Or Bath and Body Works. But it holds a valuable lesson - the mold does. And it relates to the verse above - the squeeze is on to shape you into someone's image. Who's it gonna be?
The reason I ask that question is because everybody seems to want to make me into something they want me to be. I interviewed an Olympic skier today on the talk show we have at work. And he - like me - is a childhood sexual abuse survivor. Why do I mention that? Because one of the consequences of abuse that I have found in my life is that I try to please people. I guess I am trying to make everybody happy because if they are happy at least they won't attack me.
Anyway after the broadcast, one of the supervisors was paying me a compliment about it, even though his decision is the reason we no longer have any live sportscasts in English where I work. So he is suggesting that I think about working for the television division because I can communicate well. But writing for the newswire is more than enough work - some days I write as many as 15 stories in a shift, and I sometimes even post them on our Internet site. So to add a labor-intensive, time-consuming television project to that would burn me up.
But this supervisor says that soon "everyone will have to serve two masters, because everyone is going to have to do everything." There it was. The squeeze! What he was saying is that the managers have decided to add extra work (of course without adding any extra money). So there's the squeeze.
Now I will be the first to admit that my emotional damage might - might - be coloring this a little bit. I might be perceiving things as abusive - or putting on the squeeze - when they really are not.
But it could be that I am also sensitive to manipulation - the squeeze. And that's where this verse from Romans comes in. Paul has told the Roman church to present themselves to God as living sacrifices because of Who God is. He goes on to instruct them not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to and to use the gifts that God has given them to help others.
But the word for conform is the thing that I want to point to. It is the Greek word summorphus which basically means "having the same form as another, similar, conformed to." It is made up of the preposition sun which is "a primary preposition denoting union" and morphe meaning "external appearance."
So what it's talking about is don't look the same as the world. I have seen this scripture translated in other versions as "don't let the world cram you into its mold."
And that's what I feel sometimes. I feel like people are trying to cram me into their mold. At work, at church, on the Beltway. It feels like I'm being bullied, like I am being squeezed. And I don't like it. But the question remains, to whom will I conform?
The thing that I learned about the word "conformed" here is that it is also used in another verse in Romans, 8:29: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
And the word image here is the word "eikon" which is "used of the moral likeness of renewed men to God" and also is "the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses." A. W. Robertson says about this conforming:
Here we have both morph and eikwn to express the gradual change in us till we acquire the likeness of Christ the Son of God so that we ourselves shall ultimately have the family likeness of sons of God.
Now that means that God wants me to look just like Jesus. But he is kind, he does not manipulate, but leads. Does that mean that I will always be comfortable? Absolutely not! Will that transformation be easy? I don't expect it will be, but as Bob Dylan said "it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you're gonna have to serve somebody." I choose Jesus.