For Christians in affluent parts of the world, like the United States, today's epistle reading from 1 John may be one of the hardest parts of the bible to live out.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
-- 1 John 2.15-17 CSB
Though we pride ourselves on individuality, our culture is completely obsessed with conformity. Don't believe me, look around on commercials, on social media, and on the streets. We didn't get humorous stereotypes such as the 'basic white girl' because all these young ladies are being individuals! No, they came to be because this enough of this demographic looks, talks, and behaves alike that we can make a caricature of those traits. This reality is what made the old movie Mean Girls so funny.
Guys aren't exempt from these norms or capitulation to them either. A few years ago, flannel and gigantic beards were counter-cultural traits of the 'man's man,' now they are cliche. The irony is enough to make you chuckle, because if everyone is the rugged, individualistic, Marlboro man type, then actually none of us is individualistic and independent. The same is true for other broad swaths of our culture and society, thanks to advertising and 'influencers' of various sorts...but I digress.
Sadly, the church is not free of this desire / need / compulsion to conform. In opposition to the wicked church coffee of the past (itself a laughable stereotype), churches are spending significant time and money replicating Starbuck$ in their 'campuses.' Churches are jettisoning theologically rich hymns for newer tunes that go to great lengths to sound like popular music. Pastors have discarded historic church vestments for the 'vestments' of the world in order to convey that they are just as cool as everybody else.
Under the banner of 'relevance,' the church has chased after the shiny things of the world so much that in many places there is no distinction between the way Christians look, talk, and behave and the way the unbelieving culture around us looks, talks, and behaves. Before you create a straw man and accuse me of being a Luddite, or Amish, or a proponent of a Handmaid's Tale sort of existence for Christians...let me clearly say this is NOT what I'm advocating at all. I am simply calling us back to the hard task of trying to put into practice these commands from 1 John.
It is not an easy calling, but it is clearly the best way.