One of the primary virtues of social living is being “respectable.” People feel a need to dress and talk respectably and own respectable stuff. This seems like a fine thing to do, what could possibly be wrong with being respectable?
Respectable is defined as “worthy of esteem, of good social standing.” Sounds like a fine virtue, might even be a Christian virtue.
You would certainly think so by observing professed Christians who look very respectable.
But let’s throw some Bible in here shall we? Yes, yes we shall. Jesus once said, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” If being respectable means being “worthy of esteem” and God despises what man esteems, it seems God is steamed when we are esteemed.
“Be not conformed to this world” is one of those phrases we quickly pass over in Romans 12. I think it deserves some attention. Conformity is nothing more than living for the esteem of those around us, in other words, conformity is “being respectable.”
Now, this doesn’t mean Christians need to do what is not respectable, in other words, our goal is not to flaunt conventions of society in an effort to put ourselves on display.
Rather, Christians are people who esteem what God esteems and this will look different and will lead to choices the world will not respect.
Many Christian groups over the centuries have attempted to come out from among them and be separate and yet have based their nonconformity on a list of rules:
No smokingNo drinking
No blue jeans
But this is merely replacing one bit of conformity with another.
The idea is to be so sold out to Christ, so moved by what He says, that nothing else sways us. If we are truly living sacrifices, we won’t need someone to tell us to follow their nonconformity, we will be to busy being transformed into Christ.
The Spirit’s role in our transformation is critical and cannot be replaced by a checklist. Checklists will never result in Christ-likeness.
Being respectable is worth nothing in the scope of eternity. The fact that you are fashionably dressed means little when your neighbor is going to hell. If we were truly living after Christ our nonconformity would shine in this dark world and lead us into some true, honest persecution.
“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”