Amishman David Wagler shares some thoughts on non-conformity, from the pages of Family Life:
"The banner verse is found in Romans 12:2, "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." There are two schools of thought in the interpreting of this verse, and it makes a big difference in our lives and conduct which of the two we accept.
The widely-accepted view is to focus on the renewing of our minds. If the heart is right and we accept Christ as our Saviour, then we are a child of God. This is the standard evangelical teaching. Those who take this position believe in living a good moral life but see nothing wrong in dressing like the world as long as they can "praise God and give Him the glory."
The Amish and other plain groups, however, interpret this verse in Romans 12 to mean that Christians are to be different from the world in every part of their lives–nonconformed in thoughts, appearance, and in actions. We are not to look to the styles and fashions of the world for our pattern, but be conformed instead to God's standards as interpreted by the church. This will result in distinctive attire and a simple lifestyle.
We understand, of course, that the only way we can live a truly nonconformed life in God's will is by the renewing of our minds in Christian faith. That is the only formula by which we can grasp the need for the plain and simple life, separated from the ways of this world…"
(Family Life, "Now That I Think of It: Cousins in Nonconformity", March 1996)
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To be honest, I think both schools of thought are a bit off. The more common thought of focusing on being transformed should probably look to the part about not conforming to the world. And the focus of not conforming should probably look more to the part about being transformed.
As Christians, we are “in the world and not of it.” We’re foreigners in a strange land. But that’s not how it seems. I think we (as Christians) do try to be like the world too much. We’re afraid of what people think and all that. The truth is, if we are being transformed, we WILL look different…at least in this day and age (modest apparel). We’ll sound different, and most importantly, act different.
There is a lacking of balance. Neither one side is right. Both need to be put into practice.
Also, Jesus did command us to “Go and make disciples…” that is hard to do if we live a segregated life. The analogy of a life living in the will of God vs. not is the Dead Sea. It has no out-flow and it is dead. While the Sea of Galilee just north of it, does have an outflow and is full of life. We are not to become stagnant by holding the Gospel (Good news!!) to ourselves.
Ok, stepping off my soap box. 😀
There are two ways to be non-conformed:
One is look at society around you and transform your actions so that you look different.
The other is to look to Christ and allow Him to transform your heart to His likeness. And since He has such distinct values from society at large, your life will be distinct across the board.
The first will produce outward non-conformity, the latter both inward and outward.
Ok, I step off the soap-box also.
Oh, I should add that among the Plain people, there are both kinds.
I was going to post my thoughts on this, but both of the above posters covered it! :o)