I've been thinking a lot lately about conformity. Quotes on conformity give some people's opinions on the subject. In classes I have learned that the American culture is individualistic and many Asian cultures collectivistic. Or in other words, Americans look out for number one (me) and collectivistic cultures look out for the good of the group (us).
I've been told ever since I can remember that I am very independent. I had a strong will and wanted things my own way. Sometimes being independent was a good thing, like learning to dress yourself, or cook for yourself. Other times it seemed more negative; "the world does not revolve around you!" I was told. When I learned that Americans were all this way it seemed to validate me. I was normal. It was okay to be independent because this was the characteristic of Americans that fueled the age of innovation and invention.
But I struggled. Christianity was all about putting others before yourself wasn't it? Turn the other cheek. Walk the extra mile. Part of the body of Christ. Being independent seemed wrong again.
Then I learned about how Adventists were called to be a peculiar people. To be separate from the world. In the world but not of the world. The text John 15:1 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."Did this mean that I could take pride in being unique? Did that mean going to church on Saturday and all the things that made me different than the other kids in my neighborhood was something to regard highly?
But then what about the verse in 1 Corinthians 3:3 "You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?" Wasn't this verse saying what made Christians different than the world was brotherly love among them? I was back full circle. The other was greater than the self. Independence seemed rubbish next to interdependence.
But maybe its like healthy fats. Maybe there is a healthy independence.
Healthy independence might take the form of searching the scriptures for yourselves to know what they say. (Don't just ingest the church's doctrine). Or perhaps healthy independence is being a whistle-blower, to be true to your convictions.
When you think a certain thing, and feel a certain way, is it always necessary to inform others about it?
I leave you with a quote:
"As for conforming outwardly, and living your own
life inwardly, I do not think much of that. Let not your right hand
know what your left hand does in that line of business. It will prove a
failure.... It is a greater strain than any soul can long endure. When
you get God to pulling one way, and the devil the other, each having
his feet well braced,—to say nothing of the conscience sawing
transversely,—almost any timber will give way."
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)
U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist.
Letter, August 9, 1850, to Harrison Blake, in The Writings of Henry
David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 188, Houghton Mifflin (1906).