“Men cannot make Scripture conform to their lifestyle; they must make their lifestyle conform to Scripture.” – Edwin Louis Cole
Right now in Cincinnati, a movie is being made about Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American United States Congresswoman, and the first African-American and female candidate to run for President of the United States from a major party. Actress Regina King is starring in and producing the film. Shirley Chisholm, formerly an educator, was elected to Congress in 1968 out of New York and served in office through 1983. She called herself “the people’s politician” and was a crusader for the rights of the disenfranchised: the poor, children, people of color, and women. Chisholm once said, “It’s obvious that discrimination exists. Women do not have the same opportunities that men do. And women that do not conform to the system, who try to break with accepted patterns, are stigmatized as odd and unfeminine.” Shirley Chisholm was a trailblazer for the likes of Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and First Lady Michelle O’Bama. She paid a high price for choosing not to conform to the societal norms in her day.
CONFORM means to comply with rules, standards, or laws; to behave according to socially accepted conventions or standards; to be similar in form or type; to agree. Clearly, Shirley Chisholm made a decision to be a non-conformist— different than the world around her. Christ calls His people to do the same. In Romans 12:1-2 Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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.” The world believes and behaves in ways that are antithetical to Christ followers and citizens of the Kingdom of God. 1 John 2:15-17 instructs us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
If we’re not to conform to the pattern of this world, where should our conformity lie? Paul answers this in Romans 8:29, “For those whom He (God the Father) foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters…” The life of a Christ-follower should look like Jesus’— not like certain aspects of the world around us. We, like Shirley Chisholm should be standing out in a good way because we are different. Are you conforming to this world? or are you being transformed by Christ?