This post is for Jake. I lost his email and needed to give him my thoughts on this verse. So, sorry about the obviously out-of-place nature of this post.
Romans 12: 1Therefore (A)I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to (B)present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2And do not (C)be conformed to (D)this world, but be transformed by the (E)renewing of your mind, so that you may (F)prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
3For through (G)the grace given to me I say to everyone among you (H)not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to (I)each a measure of faith. "
The message is being directed at youth-groupers, kids in an extremely peer-pressure infested environment during one of the more decisively impressionable period of their life. So, at youth group, their told and influenced not to be just like the world.
The obvious part of this verse is the one usually focused on; don't conform. Our culture celebrates individualism, and encourages everyone to conform to its standard of nonconformity. Don't believe everything you're told, don't listen to people you think are stupid (teachers, parents, stuffy church leaders).
The fact is, you're going to conform to something, model your living after someone. We learn to be what we are.
The Bible tells us to conform to His ways, AS OPPOSED to the ways of the world. It tells us that we should be noticibly different. We shouldn't swear, gossip, lie, bad-mouth authority, and all of the other things YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN'T DO BUT DO ANYWAY.
That's just it. You're in youth group. You know this verse, and you know what it means. You know what it would take to be different.
But the second part of this verse stands out to me. "so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." This is the "why" of this verse. What is it saying?
I think there's a really vital element of evangelism here. You're not supposed to be different just for your own sake of just because God said so. When you conform in obedience to God and live noticibly differently from the world around you, your life will be good. Not easy, and you probably won't be rich or be able to eat whatever you want and not gain weight, but your life will PROVE to yourself and others that God's way leads to goodness. That His plan is perfect. People see each other's lives go up in flames all the time. You know - you gossip about it all the time. But when someone's life in successful for the purposes of God, as you can be SURE it will be when you CONFORM TO HIS LIKENESS, then you PROVE Him to the world.
That's what I think, Yacob.