Interesting reflection from the blog Journey with Jesus by Dan Clendenin on "Transformed Non-conformity"
Non-conformity by itself is nothing special. Here in California where I live, non-conformists are everywhere. They ride funny bikes, experiment with alternative energy, eat organic foods, dress down instead of up, and flaunt what they think is an independent spirit, but which often is merely a different type of social conformity. Sometimes, says King, non-conformity is little more than exhibitionism. In contrast, the non-conformity that Paul describes in Romans 12 has a specific direction, which is Christ-likeness through a “renewed mind.”
The French sociologist Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) encouraged believers to move from being "negatively maladjusted" to the world to being "positively maladjusted." King says something similar: “There are some things in our world to which men [sic] of goodwill must be maladjusted. I confess that I never intend to become adjusted to the evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men [sic] of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence.” Christian non-conformity, in other words, has a specific direction.
Hope for our world rests in creatively and positively maladjusted believers, says King. This week’s text from Exodus 1:8–2:10 provides an example of nonconformity in relation to the powers of this world, in contrast to conformity to God’s redemptive purposes. The Israelites were in Egyptian bondage, increasing in number and power, when Pharaoh gave the order for infanticide — to terminate all the male Hebrew births. But the midwives defied the state authorities because, the text says, “they feared God” rather than Pharaoh (Exodus 1:17). Later, when asked what had happened, they covered up their civil disobedience by lying (v. 19).