I have a memory from an elementary school recess when my classmates and I were picking teams for a game of basketball. One of my classmates looked me in the face, and plainly said, “You’re weird.” I didn’t get the impression that it was intended to hurt my feelings, or to express that there was something “wrong” with me. It was just a simple statement made in a non-judgmental kind of way, expressing that I was different. Even then, I remember having a feeling of mutual agreement.
I look back at that moment, now finding it quite humorous, because it wouldn’t be the last time my playful nature would be seen as being different and a little goofy. But there’s more to it than just a funny story. I look at that moment and find evidence of having confidence to think and act independently at an early age, not worrying if I didn’t fit into the compartments defined by society. I now see how early in my life God began working with me to develop a drive to search for the Truth and build the conviction to live by it, regardless of what others thought. Following in suit, I can recall several moments as I made decisions to draw closer and closer to God, while turning further and further from the ways of the world.
What a relief it is to see that the Bible provides support for not fitting into the world! In Romans 12:1-2, Paul provides guidance for us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” As Christians, we undoubtedly encounter pressure to conform to the world at the expense of following the Truth, but we are instructed not to do so. As soon as our desire to be judged as “normal” by the world exceeds our desire to follow God, we put ourselves in danger of compromising our relationship with God. Following the Truth is infinitely more important than fitting in, even if the world thinks it is “weird.”
While it is unhealthy to fall prey to the pressure to conform to the world, it is even worse to follow whims of what our carnal minds might justify if those ways are absent from the direction of God. As Paul wrote to the Romans, we are to be transformed by renewing our minds in seeking the Will of God. We are to conform to God, not the world. In being different from the world by turning away from those ways of living, we find strength by living our lives in obedience to God’s commandments. Independence from the way of the world is dangerous without following the Way of God.
In this age prior to the return of Jesus Christ, there is no way of removing ourselves entirely from living in the world. In fact, it is our assigned obligation to live our lives in this world as an example. But we cannot allow ourselves to be pulled in by its deceitful enticements. If we do, it will choke out the Truth, threatening to jeopardize our salvation (compare Matthew 13:22). Our confidence and conviction must be in living the Way of Life that God commands. If the world thinks we’re weird, but God thinks we’re right, we have nothing to worry about.