Paul’s about the church as the Great Collective thought continues in verse 2: “Do not be conformed to this world . . .” J.B. Phillips paraphrased this verse in his translation of the NT as “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould . . .”
Note that this is a plural you, not a singular one. This is not a call to individual piety; the mandate to be different is a collective one. Jesus talked about discipleship in similar fashion, as collective and relational, in John 13:35 — “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
One solitary nonconformist is a curiosity. A cohesive group cannot be so easily ignored. Understand this carefully: what we are called to do is resist the pattern of this world, the pattern of this age, and as a collective be something that is both inviting and mystifying, winsome and intimidating, desirable but impossible. That is what it means to be unconformed to the pattern of this world. It also implies that we are to get close enough to people around us that they will take notice of us; godly witness does not permit isolation.
In case there was any doubt about what Paul intended in verse one, he eliminates it in verse two: “. . . but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” Again, Paul is speaking very deliberately — you (pl.) be transformed by the renewing of your (pl.) mind (sing.) — what does he mean?
Tune in next time…