Be Transformed, Not Conformed

Spiritual life speaker talks transformation

BLUFFTON, Ohio—Justin Romine grew up in church and Sunday school knowing “all the right answers,” he told a Bluffton University audience Nov. 12. He was also “the kid who hated prayer,” he recalled. “I was very impatient with it.”

But that all changed one transformative day when he was in high school, said Romine, now the summer internship director for the Keystone Project, a global discipleship-training network.

When a friend shared that he and God talked with each other, Romine thought it sounded “stupid,” he acknowledged. His friend “knew that God was walking with him,” Bluffton’s Spiritual Life Week speaker said, but Romine didn’t think that the same God who created great things “would literally have a relationship” with him.

So it seemed crazy, “but if it’s real,” he told his friend, “I want that.” They proceeded to pray together for four hours—proof of the fact, said the man who “hated” prayer at the time, “that God’s presence was with me.”

Referencing Romans 12:2—in which Christians are urged not to conform to the world but to be transformed instead by the renewing of their minds—Romine said he believes some people want to change their lives. And God wants to change us, the Keystone, S.D., resident added, because he has a larger vision: “He wants to change the world.”

“I don’t believe the world is going to change” from widespread pursuit of wealth, fame and other temporary pleasures, said Romine, expressing concern for his young children’s future amid the world’s evils.

“The only thing that can really transform us, and the world, is Jesus Christ,” he continued, stressing that he doesn’t hold that belief “because I’ve read it in a book (but) because it’s been a reality in my life.”

He has also encountered it, he noted, in the lives of women he has seen rescued from human trafficking and given “something that’s worth a new life.” Examples of such change can be found via the Starfish Project, which not only transforms trafficked women’s lives by getting them off the streets, but also by giving them a job making jewelry that can be sold to help support themselves, Romine said.

“Transformed lives will transform lives,” he said, calling transformed individuals “agents of change.” In the Keystone Project, college students are taught how to be such a transforming agent in the world by learning “how to follow Jesus,” he explained.

“There is danger in conforming to the world,” he added, calling it “the easiest, most appealing thing,” but not what life is really about. “We have to understand that one day, all of this will be gone.”

A transformed life, by contrast, is one “that’s not about you,” but aimed instead at sacrifice and service as modeled by Jesus, said Romine. It begins with being born again and, for those who commit to following Christ, will continue as “one of the hardest, but most rewarding things” they will do, he said.

“Being transformed proves God’s will to the world around us.”

Romine participated in several events during Bluffton’s Spiritual Life Week, whose theme was “Be Transformed, Not Conformed.” He holds a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry and adolescent studies from Bethel College, Mishawaka, Ind., and is pursuing a master’s degree in ministry, also at Bethel.