v 2. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
We all like to be part of a group, to have like-minded friends to whom we can easily relate and enjoy their company. We feel socially secure and accepted in such a group and rapidly adapt to the social standards of such people. That can happen in the workplace, or a sports club, or some kind of local society. The subtle message a group sends out is simply ‘Conform to be accepted.’ To be eccentric is one thing, but to be noticeably different can give rise to all kinds of unwelcome comments.
Following Jesus makes us different in a world that puts pressure on us to conform – the regular adverts on TV urge you to be like all the others who have …. whatever. Parents are often aware of what is going on among friends when a child says “Why can’t I have a …. everybody else has one.”
God wants us to be different from our surrounding culture, and to be different we have to think differently. We become new and different people as the Holy Spirit transforms our thought processes. That is the way we discover God’s purpose for our lives and begin to live in a way that pleases God.
Now that is easier said than done. Our thoughts are invaded by external influences as well as by our inner desires. There has to be a measure of self-discipline, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that enables us to follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8 ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’
That means taking charge of your thoughts rather than allowing them to take control of you!