For the final lesson I teach my eighth grade students at the end of each school year, I want it be something they will remember long after they leave my classroom. In the days leading up to this final lesson, I challenge them to ask the questions that will matter most as they navigate high school and life beyond like "What are wisdom and truth and where do they come from?" and "What am I consuming?" My final charge to them is to practice self-reflection as they progress in life and consider whether they are conforming or transforming.
Transform vs. Conform
We are all heavily influenced by the culture around us and the peer group of our choosing. It feels easiest--and perhaps most natural--to think, act, speak, and make choices like our friends and our culture. Yet Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." As children of God, we are called to be transformed, and transform our environment for the better, rather than allow our surroundings to hold sway over us.
This is challenging at best. And it often makes us stand out. But this is the way of Jesus. Over and over again in the gospels we read stories of Jesus doing things quite different than those around him. Through these accounts we learn how he interacts with people, what makes him angry, what is most important to him, and why he so often did things differently. He offers to us, in his own life (and death), a model for transforming instead of conforming.
If possible, watch the following video with your teen; I hope that it opens up dialogue between you and your high schooler and offers a grounding truth as you all navigate this season. In case you missed it, make sure to watch Part 1 and Part 2 of this series!