My Mom and I were talking about bargains. I love a bargain. In fact, I rarely make a purchase unless it is a bargain. I was re-thinking a purchase I didn’t make because it was an excellent deal but it was something I did not need. Just because something is a bargain doesn’t mean the money needs to be spent.
My Mom agreed and told a story about her father receiving several pairs of silk socks one Christmas: a bargain his mother could not pass up. My grandfather hated these socks. Mom said he thought they were uncomfortable and his feet sweat in them something terrible. Whatever his mother paid for them was too much. Which got me thinking…
Does anyone remember the silk shirt fashion trend? This had to be late 80s early 90s. Everyone was wearing them and I wanted one so badly. I don’t remember if I saved my allowance or talked my mother into purchasing one for me but there came the day I found myself the possessor of a dark teal silk shirt. How proud I was of it! What a beautiful color! How wonderful I would now fit in with all the IT people who had their own silk shirts! How I hated this shirt every time I wore it!
There was not enough antiperspirant in the world to keep my armpits from sweating in this shirt. I was anxious every time I wore my coveted silk shirt, certain that I was going to end up with large wet spots under my arms. I don’t remember if I ever did raise my arms in that shirt. I do know I didn’t wear it more than a handful of times.
What a waste of money that was. What an awful fashion trend. Remembering got me wondering…was everyone else having the same experience? Did silk shirts become a fashion trend because everyone was looking at everyone else wearing them and, too embarrassed to admit to excessive sweating, endured? Perhaps everyone else loved their shirts and it was only me who experienced the sweating. If so, it begs the question: why did I ever wear that shirt more than once? Was my desire to fit in so overwhelming I was willing to endure discomfort? The sad truth is yes, it was.
The way of fitting in has always escaped me. I tried fixing my hair like the popular girls, wearing the same clothes, trying to understand what they liked and talked about and it never worked. I think I’ve managed to misplace most of the photos from that era! I still can’t think of the words “spiral perm” without wincing. I never got the fashions quite right. It is a truth I must still acknowledge that what looks adorable on another woman will not look the same on me. I am always ever too something and it doesn’t fit right. I also acknowledge my personal taste never quite conforms. I can’t count how many times I left my house thinking I’d finally nailed it only to arrive at school and learn no, I had not.
I am now a mature woman who has found my identity in Christ. I am comfortable in my skin and my clothes and I thank Jesus for that. I also thank Him that I can look back on what were painful experiences at the time and see that there is a lesson to be learned from them.
Romans 12:2 says, “And 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.” It might surprise you to know that the Greek word translated “world” here is not kosmos (Strong’s G2889) which means “orderly arrangement or decoration” and is the word translated “world” most often in the New Testament. Nor is it oikoumene (Strong’s G3625) which means “land, the terrene part of the globe, earth”. No, the word translated “world” in this passage is aion (Strong’s G165) and means “an age”. What’s the difference?
Vine’s Expository Dictionary says kosmos is “primarily order, arrangement, ornament, adornment and is used to denote the earth…the universe owing to the order observable in it…the human race…the sum of temporal possessions.” Oikomene “is used of the whole inhabited world” and aion is “an age, a period of time, marked in the N.T. usage by spiritual or moral characteristics…details concerning the world in this respect; its cares…its sons…its rulers…its wisdom…its fashion…its character”1 The entry also states “Aion is always to be distinguished from kosmos, even where the two seem to the express the same idea” and gives the example of Ephesians 2:2: …where you once walked after the course (aion) of this world (kosmos).2
What defines the age Paul admonishes me not to be conformed to in his letter to the Romans? I do not think I am mistaken to say it is a way of thought because after telling me to “be not conformed” Paul says “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In other letters, Paul tells us to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:23)”.
I have found that the rules of school followed me into adult hood. Not that the clothes I wear are of utmost importance-though that is still a thing-but; if I want to fit in, if I want to belong, I must conform to an acceptable way of thought. Perhaps I’m straining a metaphor but the thoughts of this age fit me like that silk shirt. Maybe everyone else is comfortable in it but I am not and I am not the same person willing to suffer anxiety and endure discomfort so that I can fit in with everyone else. My desire is no longer focused on fitting in. I want to know Jesus. I want to explore the vastness of my inheritance in Him, I want to live His life, and I want to think His thoughts. All of this is possible for me because He has placed His Spirit within me.
The renewing of my mind In Christ is not always comfortable but He is always safe. I imagine the word-picture painted in the story of the Husbandman in the 15th chapter of John. There are necessary prunings and they can be painful but He does not seek to destroy me because I don’t conform to His way of thinking. Rather, every work in my life makes me more the Me I was always intended to be and thus I am transformed into his way of thinking. So, I live. Yet, not I. It is Christ who lives in me. It’s a wondrous, glorious, awesome mystery.
And, if Isaiah 61:10 and Colossians 3:12 are any indication, I’ll be wearing some pretty cool garments.
- Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 1997, Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, World, Pages 1245-1246
- Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 1997, Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, World, Page 1246