The Christian mold: it beckons us, whispers to us constantly about what a “good” Christian might choose or what a “good” Christian might say. Each in our own minds, we carry always before us a real-life person that we admire, or a contrived goal of what we think we ought to be, or an amalgam of all we see and hear from others about living the Christian life. Tellingly, the mold in our minds centers around behaviors and external practices, not typically around the righteousness of heart seen only by God. We want to be careful with our projected image, and it’s a heavy weight to carry.
However, instead of throwing off the pressurized weight of the mold, we often try instead to squeeze ourselves into it. We evaluate ourselves by the imagined mold, puffing up with pride when we fit just so and throwing ourselves into the pit of self-condemnation when we don’t. Not only does it simultaneously feed our pride and self-condemnation, but it accommodates our harsh critique of others who don’t fit the mold we carry around in our minds. We become judges, arbiters of the Christian life, and it is a heavy weight to carry.
Others among us reject any mold, any submission to a greater God-given whole, and scream out constantly about our individualism. We say in so many words to anyone who will listen, “I don’t fit the mold, and I don’t feel like that’s welcomed. Validate me.” Our difference and individualism become our highest virtue and get first priority over our corporateness in Christ. This response to the mold is an accepted invitation to self-pity, anger, bitterness, and eventually isolation, and it is a heavy weight to carry.
Although it is a heavy weight, it feels equally difficult and even unnatural to reject the beckoning of the mold, precisely because a rejection of the mold is a rejection of self. To give up the fight to fit into the mold or the fight to validate our individual mold is to give up pleasing man and pleasing our pride and submitting solely and completely to God. We must be willing to do anything that He calls us to, whether it means we fit the mold or stand out from it. We must be willing to put primary focus on the values of the kingdom of God--faith, hope, and love--rather than external practices that we use to make us look good to others.