Monday, July 18, 2016

A Peculiar People Within A Peculiar People

The body of Christ is an extremely unique, rare organism. In fact, it's one of a kind.

God intends for His body to be one. All the redeemed on earth compose the family of God. Since we are redeemed, saved by God to live for Him, we are able to live according to our Creator's expectations. God desires that we live out what we are: a holy people who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live holy lives.

Because of what God has done, we the saved are different. In fact, we are peculiar. Not only should we live differently from the world, but the world ought not to fully understand us. The world is dead in sin, with eyes blinded by Satan. This causes much of our behavior, both what we do and don't do, to seem like nonsense to them. This makes the church peculiar.

The word "peculiar" generally carries a somewhat negative connotation. However, I'm not using it in that way. Rather, I'm just suggesting that the church both does live and ought to live in a dramatically different way from how the world does.  Christ's church is a peculiar people.

The title of this post is "A Peculiar People Within A Peculiar People." What am I talking about? I'm referring to those within the church who view church life through a biblical lens. I'm talking about those of us who want the body of Christ to function like we see modeled for us in scripture. I'm writing about us weirdos who keep looking back to the bible to find out what the church ought to be. We reject tradition in the face of God's word (or at least do our best to do so).

We simple church folks are a peculiar people within a peculiar people. We are part of the larger group of peculiars (since we are part of the larger body of Christ). We are also part of a small group of peculiars. The reason for this is that we often seem odd to many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, as many of you know our family meets simply at home. We do not do the worship service-expensive building-salaried pastor thing that so many Christians do. This makes us peculiar even to other believers.

The above diagram illustrates what we simple church folks often face. The large circle represents the church as a whole (the colors have no significance). The smaller circle represents those who have left the institution behind. Please let me be clear: I'm not trying to create any sort of artificial division within the body. I'm certainly not advocating it. Rather, I'm pointing out a reality that exists.

When you desire to live church life according to what God has provided in scripture, you will seem peculiar not only to the world, but also to many other followers of Christ. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a lonely road. We are a peculiar people within a peculiar people.

6 comments:

Gunnar said...

When God is calling a person forward, calling him to no longer be satisfied with the status quo, those who are walking in the “status quo” tend to look at that person as strange or “goody-two-shoes” or a fanatic. And the person who is pushing onward often feels that the people who are satisfied with the status quo are not really seeking God. We have to be willing to be viewed as “peculiar” because we are pursuing something “new” (to many of today’s Christians).
But we also have to be careful not to give into the temptation to think that because God has opened our eyes to something that we hadn’t seen before, that we are somehow a little above or separate from the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ who haven’t seen it. I have seen that so often in the various circles I have walked --- everyone else isn’t quite up to “our” standard because they don’t have our doctrine or aren’t as zealous as we are or something similar. Gunnar

Eric said...

Gunnar,

You said, "But we also have to be careful not to give into the temptation to think that because God has opened our eyes to something that we hadn’t seen before, that we are somehow a little above or separate from the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ who haven’t seen it." You are right on target. That is one of our big challenges. Let's pray for humility that we don't fall into that trap.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

In reality it is a reverse of what has traditionally taught. It's a bit like the game of snakes and ladders in reverse. The traditional goal of an upward walk of dependence on human oriented achievement (performance)"for Christ" is reversed and we begin a downward, but difficult, walk of shedding a lot of sensual sense of achievement in "spiritual" things as well as in life, when Jesus Christ and His FINISHED achievements for His people are all we need!


Eric said...

John,

Well said! It is humbling to realize that Christ is truly all we need.

T Aagard said...

We don't know exactly how many people around the world function in the simple church dynamic. Most of them are in China or remote villages in the non-industrialized parts of the world. The simple church dot may be actually bigger than the institutionalized dot. The brand name church folks may be a minority. Many small villages can't afford a hired man and a special building. They do much better without.

Eric said...

Tim,

You make a good point about churches around the globe. Their inability to pay for institutional trappings is a benefit beyond what those folks can probably imagine. Here in the USA we see all too well how the wealth and comfort of the church has zapped its zeal.