From time to time we as individuals reflect on what we have been given and endowed with in the past and for what we are looking in the future. We realize we are subjects of time and a very real part of this animate world; but when time is well nigh spent, our lives will be adjudged a failure or success, a mess or a message, compromise or challenge, conformity or consecration. Let us consider conformity and its effects upon us, consecration and our need of it.
Conformity according to Webster is the action or act of forming to something established, some specified standard usage, or authority, and our obedience and submission to it.
Conformity to us often means to become like the crowd around us, to think, speak, live, and act just as others do. It means to follow the rest of the followers and to be afraid to be different or distinctive. This attitude of conformity is mentioned in Prov. 1:10-14, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: let us swallow them up alive as the grave . . . We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: cast in thy lot among us: let us all have one purse . . . “
One of the greatest sins among Christian people, young and old, is the sin of conformity. Someone said, “There goes the crowd, I must follow for I am their leader.” What our attitude is toward the crowd is important. Some take an attitude of isolation: “Since the crowd is evil, I’ll isolate myself from it. I’ll have nothing to do with people. I’ll separate myself from them so completely that they will not be able to wrongly influence me.” Withdrawal and isolation are not what Jesus taught or practiced. He said we are to be in the world, but not of it. John 17:15.
Others take a completely negative attitude against almost everything and are always fighting the crowd. They are like the obstinate deacon who came late to the deacon meeting and declared, “I don’t know what you men have been discussing, but I want you to know I’m against it.” He was not only ignorant but he was hopeless. Jesus never taught that in order to be a good Christian you have to be contrary to everything the worldly crowd does. Although many amusements and pastimes are questionable and sinful, this is not true of all of them. God’s will is that we leave the sinful crowd completely to Him, not fearing its blame nor seeking its praise. The secret of Paul’s power over the crowd was his emancipation from it. Acts 26:17-18 puts it, “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light.” He was delivered from the people and was no longer afraid of them; therefore, he could serve them, open their eyes, and turn them to light.
As we know, these days there is a tremendous pressure from the crowd toward conformity: “Everyone is doing it.” “Everybody’s going.” “We are all buying it.” “Everyone is using it.” “It’s all the rage now.” “Don’t be an odd ball.’ “Are you a square?” “Don’t be a triangle.” (A triangle is a square that isn’t all there.) We all have this habit. This is the crowd and these are its themes. A radio announcer says, “This song is No. 1 on the hit parade, it’s popular, everyone’s singing it.” In other words, “Don’t be different, sing what the crowd sings, get into the mold with the rest of us.” T.V. advertises in a similar manner: “One hundred thousand people can’t be wrong.” “Four out of five doctors recommend it.” “The beer that is the joy of good living.” “The cigarette of thinking people.” All expect us to comply with their pattern. After all, who wants to be the ugly duckling or sore thumb? Who cares to be distinct or different?
All our life we are being poured into a mold. Paul says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within.” Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Now face squarely this second word: consecration. Consecration means to dedicate to a sacred purpose or service; and this dedication must be deliberate, conscious, and personal. God does not forcibly take anything from anyone. He takes only what we voluntarily and consciously give Him. Such a definite consecration will give a dynamic purpose to life, but it must be personal, complete, and irrevocable.
God deals with each individual personally. “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). We have all been created with intellect, emotion, and will. We can know, we can feel, we can choose. God did not create a race of puppets. You are not a mechanism without intelligence or power to decide. You make your own decisions; therefore, you are morally responsible to God for all your choices and conduct. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). We have the privilege and obligation to consecrate ourselves to God, to make ourselves available for His highest will, and to do this regardless of the lower choices and evil example of friends or strangers.
In these days of growing worldliness we must renew our vow to take a stand as Christian soldiers guarding lest ways of ease and luxury undermine our principles. We know only too well how much we often lack the real zeal we should have for spiritual things. What we need today more than easy money, wardrobes, rich homes, is a return to the demands of God’s Word. Many of us feed on husks rather than corn as a result of the fact that things of real value become secondary or even last! It is not that we totally neglect reading God’s Word, but the formality with which we read it and our lack of interest does nothing to nurture that faith implanted by the Spirit of God. Our apathy shows itself in the ideals that are set up in our homes and in the distorted values we often hold up as good.
But a meaningful consecration involves more than just a personal decision that could be general and limited. Christ must be Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. Christ demands all of me. What He demands I am able to give. What I am able to give I must give or suffer the consequences of defeat and frustration. He owns us by creation and by redemption. “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price (I Cor 6:19b-20a). You understand you really give Him nothing; you only make available to Him what is already His.
In consecration the total life is involved. God demands every member of the body, every part of the being, every area of the life. All present desires and future ambitions, every hindering habit and secret love, every evil association and questionable friendship, each unequal yoke and impure imagination, all rights to choose your own plans – everything – must be consecrated. Surrender in this spiritual battle means victory and glorious slavery to God! This means we will not be crowd controlled but Christ controlled. So let us be spiritually awake, dedicated and consecrated workers so we can say with Paul in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” This is victory!