In America, we have all been socialized into behaviors that are believed to be conducive to the larger culture in which we all share publicly and the smaller cultural environments that we share on a more personal level. Socialization simply means that from childhood individuals are told what to do and the correct way to do it according to people and influences in his or her world.
Therefore a child, from birth, is shaped and molded by others in ways that impact the way they behave towards society, family, education, solving conflicts, love, relationships, racial perceptions, traditions, politics, and religion, and so forth.
Most people blindly follow the patterns of behavior and thought inherited from or given to them by their influencing communities (parents, friends, relatives, organizations etc. ;) and culture without question. In almost every instance of socialization it becomes mentally and emotionally internalized until individuals behave and think in ways that are second nature to them.
Socialization is not bad in itself since it allows people to learn and internalize cultural norms, moral codes, values, and beliefs that help their society function properly.
The problem lies in the inability of some people, who identify as Christians, to tear away from or rise above inherited behaviors and thoughts that challenge their obedience to God’s command to renew their minds and be transformed. Socialization is so powerful that most people will ignorantly follow behaviors and thoughts that are sinful and contrary to God’s word.
Taking a closer look at many of the social ills in America, it is easy to see the anti-biblical behaviors and thoughts being engaged in and adopted by self-professed Christians. It is the power of socialization - through enforcement and re-enforcement - and a serious example of how deeply impacted individuals are in their own worldviews, sub-cultures, man-made traditions, and in-group truths.
If an individual doesn’t take the time to self-examine and reflect on their thoughts and behaviors - that may not line up with the biblical message – they will unknowingly suffer from the effects of an untransformed heart.
Socialization at its best is the product of imperfect people and is limited to its ability to produce learned and trained individuals through fallen man’s education, fallen man-s common sense, fallen man-s logic, and fallen man-s everyday experiences. Without God, sinfulness will severely taint what we do and how we think no matter how “good” others celebrate those thoughts or actions.
Followers of Christ who have not made an informed comparison between socialization and transformation usually can’t be distinguished from any other moral person and are unaware of the disparity between their faith profession and their lifestyle practices.
When the life of Christ is truly reproduced - by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit and the inner work of God and not by human effort – then a transformed heart can emerge within the individual. When a heart is truly transformed it can and will contribute to sustaining the integrity of the Christian faith and it will lead individuals to impact society through the love of God.
There is a slippery slope between socialized behavior and thought and a transformed heart. Apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, followers of Christ are limited to socialized Christianity and their thoughts and behaviors are guided by what they have been given or have inherited from others rather than the Word of God.
Followers of Christ were never meant to be socialized into Christianity, but they were meant to be transformed by it.
Dr. Pensacola H. Jefferson
Keep rethinking your life - based on God’s truth - until you’re transformed by it.