"Conformity" is defined as: 1) action in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, practices, etc. 2) compliance or acquiescence; obedience. (dictionary .com)
Religion, to survive, demands conformity. There are few or no choices. Individuality is discouraged and everyone is expected to think the same and to act the same.
It's considered a badge of honor to be there whenever the door is opened. When programs are instituted, everyone is expected to participate. The entire group is expected to be involved in the same Bible studies or discipleship groups. One of my previous posts attempted to describe the conformity that takes place during "corporate worship." In this atmosphere, the group is told what songs to sing, when to stand, when to sit and when to clap.
No allowance is made for the fact that people have different needs and are in different places in their journeys. Conformity to group expectations is considered to be more important than any differences in circumstances. With those pressure to conform as motivation, we develop what I think of as a cookie cutter religion.
By conforming to a group's expectations, our individual personalities are squelched. We become a different person to appease the group and we don't allow the real person to come out. As a result, our needs are never fully met nor do we ever fully develop as real people. This leads to insecurity, confusion and frustration and we lose the ability to hear God for ourselves and to make our own decisions. Instead of moving naturally, we need programs and leaders to tell us what to do and how to do it.
We've all been uniquely created with different personalities and different likes and dislikes. When the real person has been freed, there will be a flow to our actions. We'll respond in a way that is natural to us instead of trying to be someone we're not.
For years, I struggled to make myself into an intercessor but somehow, it just wasn't a good fit. I never could comfortably squeeze myself into that mold. It was only when I gave up trying to be who I wasn't that I experienced peace. Now, as I'm learning to move naturally the way I was created, Father is re-teaching me how to pray. Also, I'm finding that the need to fit in is lessening. I no longer feel as though I have to participate in activities that are not helpful just to please others.
I believe this conformity can promote immaturity in believers. In order to grow and mature, we need to allow Father to remove the masks so that we can be honest about who we are and what we really believe. We need to learn to be honest with ourselves, then with God and finally with others.
After all the years of trying to fit in, I found that I didn't even know who I was. The real me was hidden under so many layers of pretense that I didn't even know myself or what I wanted. Finding myself has been a process which I'm still trying to work through. Occasionally, there are setbacks and wrong turns but slowly I'm seeing the real me emerge and what's amazing is that I'm finding that the real me is a pretty neat person.
"We have been a generation of people who don't know who we are." - Darin Hufford