The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/24

Posted on | September 24, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/24

Scripture reading: Galatians 1:10

Conformed or Transformed?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

Over fifty years ago, psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a series of now famous experiments seeking to measure the power of conformity in groups. He wanted to know if group pressure could change a person’s opinion of even obvious facts. In a classroom setting, he showed a group of participants four vertical lines of varying lengths and asked a series of questions: Which line is longer? Which lines are the same in length? etc. All but one of the participants knew the true aims of the experiment. The “real” participant was not told and assumed that everyone was working with the same set of assumptions. As the questions were asked, the participants responded out loud. The real participant was always placed last or next to the last. At first, everyone answered the questions in the same way, giving the answer that was obviously correct. But after a few rounds of questions, the participants who had been prepared ahead began to give the same incorrect answers. Asch wanted to know if the real participant would change his answer and conform to the group even though their answer was obviously incorrect. The results were sobering. The real participant conformed to the dishonest majority 37% of the time, giving an answer that was obviously wrong, and 75% conformed at least once.

Asch’s conformity experiments give scientific validation for what most of us have known all along. Social pressure can cause a person to say he believes something that is obviously not true. Even in the presence of irrefutable evidence, when group pressure is applied, we often begin to see things that aren’t there. It is hard to stand alone against the crowd.

Jesus tells his disciples that they are to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–16). This means they will stand out from the crowd. By definition, they will be different from the world around them. This is what it means to be a witness for Christ. The only way to change the world is to be distinct from it. Christians dare to stand alone as they witness to what is true.

,. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
,. Therefore come out from them and be separate. (II Corinthians 6:17)
,. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:17)
,. Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? (James 4:4)

However, as Asch conducted his experiments, he made a very important discovery. When just one participant was coached to voice a different opinion from the majority, then the “real” participant was much more likely to resist the urge to con- form and speak the truth himself. All it took was one voice of truth in a room full of lies to enable him to perceive reality in a different way so that he could conform to the truth rather than to the crowd. Alexander Solzhenitsyn knew well the power of one faithful witness when he said, “One word of truth outweighs the world.”

So don’t be conformed to this world of lies but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Dare to be different. One voice for truth can change history.

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils. . . my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.
—Martin Luther

point to ponder • Jesus said that the broad, easy and popular way leads to hell.

prayer focus • Courage to stand for truth, even when you stand alone.


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