April 3, 2019

Have you noticed how “dark” our culture has become? I’m not referring to television shows or movies or even morals.  I mean, just colors alone are become more and more gloomy.  The next time you drive down a busy highway count the number of dark cars there are vs. colorful ones.  How many black, dark blue, dark green, gray, silver cars are there in comparison to red or bright blue, or green?  No doubt there are many white cars as well, but even that says something about how drab we have become.  I wonder why?

My family and I were in New York City a few weeks ago for a family vacation. I noticed that almost everyone on the streets of NY was wearing a black coat.  Almost everyone!  I began to count… it was about 14 to 1 black coats to anything else.  What’s that all about?  At one-point Ellen and I were sitting at a table in a park having our lunch.  It was a large space and there had to be at least 150 other tables.  It was a sea of black coats and darkness.  At one point a young woman walked across the park wearing a lavender coat with a brightly colored flowery dress… she looked like a freak.  Well, okay… maybe not a freak, but she very much stood out in the sea of darkness.  I almost went and told her how refreshing she looked, but decided I didn’t want to get arrested.  And, Ellen was sitting there so… well, you know.

Even professional sports teams are in on the act… especially in the NFL. There are teams whose colors don’t include black and yet they still manage to design uniforms using that dark color.  Seriously, what’s up with that?

In the midst of an already dark world, do we really have to exacerbate the problem by darkening our surroundings too? I realize that someone will say, “Well, that’s all they stock in the stores.”  Oh, are we slaves to the clothing designers?  The answer is “Yes, yes we are.”

I was talking to a young person not too long ago and I asked him why he wore black all the time. His answer was “I don’t wear it because it’s in style.  I just wear it because I like it.” (The implication being “I’m my own person.”)  Um… yeah… and I wore skin tight pants in Jr. High because they were comfortable.  And I sported bell bottoms because I just liked all that extra cloth hanging off the bottom of my pants.  Out of the mouths of babes!

One thing about getting older that I really appreciate is that I feel so much less pressure to conform to the standards around me. Don’t get me wrong… I didn’t say I feel no pressure, but its reality diminishes daily.  Because of my “size” I have begun to buy my clothes online (when I even buy clothes).  I can honestly say that I care little for what the styles or colors are that are being sported these days.  That being said, the fact that I wear pants and shirts at all indicates that I still conform to some of our culture’s standards.

Interestingly at Mt Vernon Church I am about the only man on Sunday morning who consistently wears a tie. And that’s because I feel some pressure to conform to a “uniform.”  Even that’s becoming a thing of the past.  Newer more contemporary churches have the pastors “sporting” rolled up sleeves and slacks from “the stage” while preaching from a tall chair or 3 legged stool.

So, what is our responsibility as Christians regarding the standards of this world? The first step in figuring this out is to understand the difference between worldly/traditional/cultural standards vs. Godly standards.  Too often we confuse those. You need to decide whether your standards are Biblical/Godly ones or if they are just what you know, love and are used to.  If they are simply what you are used to and love then they are likely your standards not God’s.  That is an important distinction!

In Romans 12 Paul says this: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So, what does Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” mean for us as Believers?   Without going into a long explanation can I say AT THE VERY LEAST this verse claims that there is something that needs to change in the hearts and minds of Christian people so that they do not simply imitate the world.  We are not called to be rebels simply for the sake of rebellion.  We are called to be like Jesus.  That in itself is revolutionary!  When we cease trying to imitate the world and begin to emulate the Lord of the Universe… then and only then will we (figuratively) stop wearing black coats and driving dark cars.  We will dance through this shadowy world with our lavender coats and flowered dresses or colorful ties AND we will care less about what people think or what happens to be in style.  Our brains will be more interested in the thoughts of our Lord.

Wear something colorful tomorrow…