One of the consequences of being an honest non-conformist is that people who love standardization and so-called normalcy have their attention drawn to me, often with less-than-harmonious, happy effects.
I am not anti-authority, per se. But being a non-conformist who comes by it honestly on both my father’s and mother’s side, popular and typical ways of relating to authority are a puzzle to me.
When someone tells me to jump, I do not necessarily ask how high I should jump. Rather, the question which comes first to mind is whether this person actually in fact has the proper authority to be making this particular request in this particular situation. And if they do not, or if it is not clear that they do, the mere fact of raising the question is more often than not enough to produce conflict.
Growing up, my Dad especially impressed on me the importance of Romans 12:2, which says “...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Now it is worth noting that the very next verse should contextualize. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you 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 each a measure of faith.”
Square Pegs, Round Holes
We must have humility even amidst our God-ordained non-conformity. Where this gets sticky is at precisely the point when non-conformity leads to pointed questions of just who do we think we are that we would dare to do things differently than others do them.
It is admittedly hard to answer that we are trying to maintain integrity and excellence whatever everyone else is doing without being accused of lacking humility. What is more, it is admittedly difficult to remain patient when the very fact of non-conformity, or of questioning conformity, is taken as proof that we are arrogant, stubborn, or rebellious.
Hear me now, then, and mark this well. Christians ought not to be rebels without a cause. Moreover, we ought not to be rebels at all. But it is easy to be mistaken for rebels when we question whether lower authorities are acting in accordance with higher precepts and principles derived from greater authorities.
Therein lies the rub. However much the larger body politic needs non-conformists to question why everyone is going about things in a certain way, the non-conformists are historically the ones who get the pointed questions first of where they get off doing things differently.
And when the cause of standardization and normalcy becomes an end unto itself, the clipping of wings and rounding off of square pegs follows close behind.
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