What Does It Mean To “Not Conform to the Ways of This World”?

I did not realize just how terrible the world is until the past few weeks. Even then, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. This missionary kid of seventeen years need two semesters in politics to actually understand the stupidity of this world.

That fact is mildly embarrassing, to be honest. But this has been an embarrassing year with the amount of idiocy that has been exposed even in my personal life.

I guess I’m a human. Shocker, right?

In all seriousness, it has already been a weird year. My college/career plans have shifted in earth-shattering ways, even within the past few days. God has used other events to shake me to my core and draw out major root issues, a process that continues even till now. I’m told that the process of being de-stupidized (trademark Elisha McFarland) is a long one. In fact, it’s lifelong. I don’t believe I nor anyone else will reach the end of that particular path.

My ability to write has not been handicapped, as I’m sure you can tell. I’m less formal, slightly more cynical, and I’ve vowed to make more people laugh in 2021 than I confronted in 2020. Amidst the 20,000 or so other habits I have, my habit of confronting people that disagree with me is a deeply rooted one. I, in my hypocrisy, would become deeply affronted at the first breach of my “personal opinions”, yet I saw fit to force these opinions on the same people that would conform myself to them.

The removal of this habit led me to pursue the topic of conformity, most especially conformity to the world. You see, I am a Christian, as many of my older readers know, and this means that nine out of ten people I meet will likely hate me. No, seriously. My opinions aren’t exactly popular in today’s politically charged world. Just create a Twitter account and you’ll see what I mean.

Finding the difference between holding personal opinions as such and holding beliefs to avoid conforming to the world has been a large part of my political studies. Halfway through this school year, I embarked on a journey to become like my government teacher: unbiased in all political opinions. Although this particular study was not assigned in a classroom, I was met with some success. I found the line between politics and religion, government and Christianity. In doing so, I found the balance between being unbiased in one area and heavily biased in the next. Confused? Me too.

“I found the line between politics and religion, government and Christianity. In doing so, I found the balance between being unbiased in one area and heavily biased in the next.” -Elisha McFarland

There is a line to be drawn between politics and Christianity. When completely unrelated to Christianity, one should be as unbiased in all political opinions as possible. While nobody will agree or even begin to see this within themselves, we are all politically biased in one way or another. When I first began this journey, I had to commit to holding zero political bias whatsoever. I even discarded my current status as Republican for a certain time, although I have returned to the title, given my political opinions.

The journey to being politically unbiased is a topic for another blog post. Regardless, in reaching this position, I had to differentiate between the opinions that violated my Christian beliefs, and the opinions that were formed by me, a Christian. Herein lies the difference between/combination of Christianity and politics. When the two mix, your faith has to be your foundation, not your final result.

Thus, we find the most popular opinion I will ever give on this public forum: there are strong Christians that reached “Christian opinions” because, in formulating a political standpoint, they began with politics and ended with their Faith. Take, for example, the issue of abortion. I know several Christians that support the idea, and it is for the exact reason I previously gave. They began exploring this issue in politics, and remained there the entire way, only to exit the tunnel with a religious opinion.

As Christians, we need to be better than this. If you begin with your faith and then move to the political aspects of the topic at hand, I respect the final result. You began and ended in the right places, but we can disagree on the path you took.

Our faith is first in the formation of our opinions. If the world causes us to change these opinions because of their building block, you know there’s something wrong. In fact, chances are that your opinion was the correct one because the world rejects anything and everything that comes from Christ. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Do not be conformed in your Christian faith! Hold fast to the Bible’s teachings, because those are the only truths you will find in this world. As you do so, test your opinions, so that you may “discern what is the will of God.” Challenge yourself! Ask yourself, “is this opinion from me, or from my faith?” If the answer is the former, I challenge you to think about it in light of the gospel. I’d be legitimately surprised if you could not find a topic in politics that isn’t even remotely related to our beliefs (for example, environmentalism is slightly related since God tells us to steward the Earth).

The world will do its absolute best to change you. Satan hates seeing people take a stand for righteousness, and he will do everything in his power to make you suffer for your beliefs. Sound terrifying? Jesus died a far more terrifying death so that you can have the strength to fight the world.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:3

I cannot stress this enough, guys. Do not conform to this world. It is truly astounding how many Godly men and women will compromise their faith in small ways to make themselves seem more friendly or cool. I continue to find myself doing it subconsciously, and why wouldn’t I be? We’re made for relationship, and anything that breaches relationship is subconsciously hated, even our beliefs.

Whether it be in the little things (like making a habit out of swearing) to the big things (supporting abortion), Christianity is constantly being conformed into the world. It’s a scary fact. Right down the road from me, a church has elected a gay man as an elder. This is a blatant, horrible disregard for the clear word of Christ, but again, what else can we expect from a world run by cancel culture? Conform or die. Keep in mind, however, that the latter option is an honor. If you aren’t prepared to die for your faith, particularly in today’s world, you’re in the wrong religion. I suggest something peaceful, like Buddhism.

“Conform to the world or die. Keep in mind, however, that the latter option is an honor. If you aren’t prepared to die for your faith, particularly in today’s world, you’re in the wrong religion. I suggest something peaceful, like Buddhism.”

What will you do when your beliefs are confronted by Christ, or, alternatively, challenged by the world? Will you allow yourself to be transformed by the renewal of your mind through the marvelous work of Christ, or will you allow yourself to be conformed to the world, re-created as a shallow Christian with little regard for the truth of God?

This is reality, folks. Our faith is being infringed upon every day, and if we aren’t prepared to stand up and unabashedly speak the truth without conformity, the church will suffer atrocities never before seen. The war is now, and the battlefront is already before you. Will you join it through prayer and thoughtful dialogue, or will you stand on the sidelines and watch?


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18 thoughts on “What Does It Mean To “Not Conform to the Ways of This World”?

  1. grace

    Very true words Elisha! I like the idea of trying to be politically unbiased!
    Yes, we should not conform to the world, it won’t bring us much joy! True joy can be found in Jesus!
    Good to see your still writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mimerific

    The title of this post really caught my attention, but it was slightly hard to follow. You made some good points and shared your heart, but rambled a bit in the process.

    The one piece I did not appreciate was this paragraph: Christianity is constantly being conformed into the world. It’s a scary fact. Right down the road from me, a church has elected a gay man as an elder. This is a blatant, horrible disregard for the clear word of Christ, but again, what else can we expect from a world run by cancel culture?

    I want to bring this up because I just finished a class where we read a book on this exact subject. I think you could have been, I don’t know, ‘nicer’, in your choice of words describing the gay man. I don’t want to go deep into this subject right now(mainly because I had typing on my phone), but I strongly suggest the book Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach for you and anyone else who reads this comment to go ahead and read. It’s probably the best (educational) book I’ve read all year. (And just do you know, I do disagree with the making of him an elder, but you don’t know the man’s situation, and I bet there’s more to him than meets the eye.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course, and your points are all correct. Firstly, allow me to explain my rambling. In most of my posts, I have a clear, linear path I intend to follow, and I stick with it. This was not that post. Coupled with the fact that I have been unable to write consistently as of late, I had a difficult time sticking to the task at hand.
      On the topic of the homosexual elder: perhaps I could have re-phrase, but, to be frank, I believe it a serious enough topic that I am more than willing to speak strongly on the matter. We can continue this discussion via email, if you’d like. I’d be more than willing to explain precisely why I used the language I did, but I do appreciate your honesty in bringing up my choice of wording. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. It’s funny, I was just reading through Romans 12 last night. Great job. I resonate with many of your points, especially with that of politics. It just seems to get more ridiculous every day.

    However, I would like to pick your brain on what you think about obligations to the government. Jesus’ said repeatedly to obey the government (unless faith and worship were being silenced) like in Romans 13:1-14:

    “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

    And, of course, there is this famous saying that Jesus said to his disciples:

    “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him.” – Mark 12:17 NIV

    All of this is to pose a question: If God orders us to submit to our earthly rulers, and if submitting to our earthly rulers requires active participation in the government and a formation of opinions to support that participation (I.E. the USA’s democracy), then shouldn’t we also strive to be not necessarily conform to the world, but conscious and active in the formation of stances on certain aspects to as to properly follow-through with legislation that protects and justifies Christianity and other virtuous causes?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ella Smalley

    A super important topic that needs to be talked about more. I see more and more churches conforming to the ways of the world, watering down church traditions and over simplifying even the bible, because they think that is the only way they can make Christianity approachable for non Christians. When in reality they are driving away people who are seeking for something more in their life. We all need to become stronger in are faith and beliefs, and constantly be pushing each other to become better Christians. And I would just like to say in relation to the comment posted by mimerific, I don’t think Elisha said anything rude or mean about the gay church elder. He only expressed his dislike about the fact that that a church would have someone who is choosing to embrace sinful behavior and desires as a leader who is supposed to be setting an good example for others in the church. Anyway sorry about the rant, really enjoyed reading this one Elisha and I’m glad that your still out there fighting for what is right, despite the fact that you get so much backlash for it. Can’t wait to read your next post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Grampa Joe Nowosielski

    I enjoyed reading this post. Continue to stand strong, Elisha! Two questions: Is Ella Smalley a daughter of John Smalley, former GCBC member? Are you in regular communication with Josiah Kegg? Love, How Nowosielski

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so true. I had a conversation with a catholic the other day, and I was surprised to hear him say “it’s easier for me to be friends with people with whom I disagree religiously, than those with whom I disagree politically.” (Paraphrasing.)

    “Yeah” I thought “that’s because you show your politics in your life more than you show your faith. Your faith takes second.”

    I had never seen just how prevalent this concept was before speaking with this guy, and now I see that it is more prevalent than just one guy – it’s everywhere. I agree with what you said here – that our faith must be the foundation of our politics, not the other way around. May we all seek truth in the Word of God, not in the world. (By the way, I absolutely love the verse you used, Romans 12:2. I’ve also found it helpful in other areas of my life.)

    Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

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