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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Conformity.

Today, as many will know, is St Andrew's Day. St Andrew is the patron saint of a number of countries, one of which is Scotland. The Free Church of Scotland called for this St Andrew's Day to be a national day of Prayer - for the nation of Scotland, but also for the world in general. I know that I was not alone in spending some of today in prayer for Scotland, the rest of the UK and, of course, France.

The denomination kindly provided some specific prayer points that I certainly found to be very helpful.  However, one "bullet point" jumped out at me.  It stated: "Confess sins of conformity to the world and failing to prioritise Jesus Christ over all the world."

I have no doubt that a well-known verse from the Scriptures of the New Testament were in the mind of the person(s) who decided to provide that particular point. Paul, writing to the early disciples of Jesus in the 1st century city of Rome, encouraged them to "... not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom 12:2). How often I allow myself to conform in this way, and it is right and proper that I should confess to that, and receive the forgiveness of Father God that has already been gained for me through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as He paid the penalty for my sins.

However, I remembered that Paul had already written about "conforming", in that same letter. A little earlier he had explained to his fellow-believers that "... those whom He [Father God] foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He [the Son; the Lord Jesus] might be the first-born among many brethren." (Rom 8:29; emphasis added).

So, it would appear that it is not "conforming" that is the problem - but to Whom, or to what, we conform!

Last evening, we had a number of friends join with us for dinner.  The gathered company included a little boy who is about 18 months old. He and I had great fun - if I did something, he would copy me. One might say that he was "conforming" to what he saw me do. It's a perfectly normal reaction in a child - copying what an adult does. It's how we learn in the early days of our human lives.

What a difference it would make in, and to, my life if I was to be as faithful in copying Jesus as that little boy was in copying me last evening! Yet Paul says that this is what I have been predestined to do! Now, I can accept that - and despair. I can look at myself, and easily recognise how poor a copy of Jesus I am! However, I can also accept that, if Father God has said that I shall be like the Son - then I shall be! The transformation will not be completed until I reach Glory - but the process is already in operation! As a friend from 'way back used to put it - "I'm still a work in progress"! (For more on this - what theologians refer to as "Sanctification" - read my book "Great Words of the Faith"; details above!).

So, to Whom, or to what, do you conform - or, at least, seek to conform? It's a question that only you can answer - but it's a question, the answer to which has eternal consequences!

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