I overheard an interesting conversation yesterday between two friends, one of whom is a foreigner. They spoke about people conforming to cultural norms and how young people in the town I was in conformed to the dictates of fashion. As soon as a new style is revealed men and women adopt it. The foreigner used the gyms where she works as a gym instructor as examples.
The foreigner went on to encourage her friend to not conform to his culture. She said that people here conform so much that even when they don’t conform to the cultural trend, they conform to the counter-cultural one. As a non-conformist in her home country people don’t understand her anymore. She has become so different from them. With time she became confident in who she was, her limitations and her excellencies. Her friend, she confirmed, had done so too.
What I found interesting is that whether we conform to society, cultural norms or the dictates of fashion, or not, we will always conform to something. Even the non-conformists conform to an ideal. With humans there will always be an ideal. Those who don’t claim to cling to any ideal are holding on to that ideal. There will always be some standard we or others have set. Non-conformists in essence merely rebel against the standards of others while choosing to set their own. In so doing, sometimes unknowingly, they live up to the non-conformist ideology–a standard others have set.
In Romans 12:2, Paul encourages the recipients of his letter who were living in Rome at the time, as well as Christendom at large, to not conform to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. He calls Christians, or followers of the Way as they were also called at that time, to not submit to cultural norms and practices as far as they are outside the will of God, but to be transformed from the inside out into something wholly other than the humanity they knew. God was calling His people higher. But this transformation process or metamorphosis entails conforming to the standards of heaven, the everlasting principles of the Kingdom of God which basically is “faith that works by love” The Ministry of Healing, 1905, p. 169.
So, the point is that no matter what we say or do, we will always conform to some standard, decree, rule, norm, ideal, pattern or principle. There is no way of escape. It is a fundamental part of life.