“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:2, J. B. Phillips-New Testament in Modern English)

Ordinarily, pressure in life is something that affects nearly everyone. Everyone has responsibilities in one form or another as well as relationships that require attention and cultivation. If we just stop there, we could make a rather good case that nearly everyone is under stress, but then when you add pandemics, shutdowns, and the accompanying fears and concerns, the pressures rise even farther. But there is more; add in the political, racial, and social unrest and life becomes a real pressure cooker.

I was a teenager when I first read J. B. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament and in particular, Romans 12:2, it left a lasting impression on him him him me: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” Later, I worked for a company that molded plastic parts; simply stated, this is how it works: plastic and polymer pellets are fed into the machine, heated up under remarkably high temperatures, and then, under pressure, the liquid plastic is injected into the mold. This illustrates what the world is trying to do to every one of us. Those in the world often speak of individuality and uniqueness, but the goal of this world’s system is conformity. They promise freedom but deliver enslavement.

Paul asked the question: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7 (NIV). Jesus spoke of the joy that the shepherd sensed when he found “the one lost sheep,” but conversely there is sorrow when we see someone who was running the race well, succumb to the pressure to conform to this world.

It is difficult to know and understand all the pressures that someone else is facing, but when the additional pressures of this past year are added in, it has caused more than a few to yield to the conformity that this world demands. In one way or another, there will always be pressure, but being aware of this, what can we do to mitigate the damage? What causes someone to go from believing that the word of God is divinely inspired to begin questioning its moral and spiritual teachings?

Let me interject at this point; it is important as leaders that we do not allow ourselves to get caught up or be overly despairing because of someone’s departure from the faith. Paul lamented in a letter: “Demas has fallen in love with the present world and has deserted me…” 2 Timothy 4:10 (CEB). If we become paralyzed by someone else’s failure, it gives the enemy a two-for-one victory.

After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways! 2 Corinthians 2:11 (MESSAGE)

Pressures from within and from without will always be a fact of life, but when the squeeze is powerful, and the temptation to conform to the world’s way of thinking is closing in on us, there are some things that we must remember.

Isolation has always been one of Satan’s tactics. We have learned from all those nature shows that predators are most likely to attack the weak or those separated from the pack or herd. Therefore, we are seeing an increase in those departing from the faith during this time of enforced isolation. God may have said, “it is not good for man to be alone,” with respect to Adam and Eve, but it is still applicable today. This does not mean that we cannot overcome the obstacles presented by the present circumstances, but it does require us to be intentional and have a plan in caring for people.

Secondly, we must take care of what we are feeding our souls. If we pay more attention to what the world is trying to tell us instead of what God is speaking into our hearts, it should not be surprising that there would be a tendency to give into conformity with the world’s system. If we feed solely on “spiritual junk food,” it would not be a shock to find ourselves in less-than-optimal spiritual condition?

Finally, looking once again at our text in Romans 12:2, the antidote to being squeezed into this world’s mold is to constantly undergo a renewal of our mind by the Holy Spirit. There is a principle established that lets us know, “yesterday’s manna will not nourish us today.” Each day we must be attentive to what the Lord is telling us for this moment.

The renewing of the mind also takes place in community: ‘But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.’ Hebrews 3:13 (NIV). Whether or not we can meet face-to-face, make it your mission each day to find someone who you can encourage in the Word.

The world will continue to try and put the pressure on us, but:

You see, every child of God overcomes the world, for our faith is the victorious power that triumphs over the world. So who are the world conquerors, defeating its power? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4–5 (TPT)

We thank you, Lord, for the Holy Spirit who is our helper and brings your words into our memory. We pray for strength to resist being conformed to this world and instead to be transformed by a renewal of our minds so that we can understand your will and purpose each day. Amen!

Steve Ekeroth

 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

6 Comments

  1. Rev Jan Michael Nace on January 21, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Good word. Comprehensive and thorough. Should be read by everyone concerned about present status quo.

  2. Stan on January 21, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Good word as usual friend

  3. Lorenzo Campanello on January 21, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    Great word Steve. Very encouraging.

  4. Garry L. Guinn on January 22, 2021 at 7:41 am

    Thank you Steve, you have encouraged me today!

  5. Steve Fitzpatrick on February 4, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Steve,

    Another good word with a lot of insight!

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