Conformity or Peculiarity?
Robert Wurtz II
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (1Peter 2:9-10)
Although God owns the universe and everything in it, He has always desired to separate out and own a group of people in a unique way. This is what Israel was meant to be; God’s special (unique) possession. He wanted them to be a peculiar people; a compound Greek word that simply means over and above. Not that they were better than everyone else, but that they would be a living expression of God’s attributes in the earth.
After many centuries it was evident that they had failed miserably. Within this group of Israelites, Jesus Christ began calling disciples to follow Him. They were the beginnings of what we now know as the Church. Understand that there was a deliberate design to separate men and women from the life that they had been living. They were being chosen for a royal priesthood. They were called to be a holy nation. They would be God’s unique and purchased possession.
Challenging God’s design these last 6000+ years has been none other than the Devil. In one sense his objective is to tempt God’s peculiar people to compromise and conform to the evil world around them. This is why the New Testament is loaded with reminders of who and what the Church is supposed to be. If we lose our peculiarity we lose our identity and if we lose our identity we have succumbed to conformity,
The difficulty in convincing most professed Christians that we are supposed to be separate from the world, is that most people came to Christ in an environment devoid of teachings on this subject. Evangelism is almost completely man-centered these days, with little or no regard for God’s purposes. Many people think salvation is simply a means of escaping hell. Multitudes have prayed a simple prayer and have been told they are now saved. Some have been told they can now never be lost.
The consequence of all this is that Christian standards have been lowered to the point that there is almost no distinction between the lives of Christians and the lives of sinners. We have been in such a moral free fall that we all deserve a certificate in skydiving. A hundred years ago there was a clear line between the Church and the world, but that line is now completely blurred. Just in my lifetime I have watched the churches go from rejecting secular activities as “worldly” such as secular music, the movie theatre, dancing, drinking alcohol, immodest clothing (women wearing men’s clothes, etc.), men wearing women’s jewelry, tattoos, coed swimming, and a host of other things- to embracing them in so-called Christian “liberty.” In some cases they are used as means of evangelism and fund raising. And it only took two generations.
Christian teachers used to say that a person is either sitting in the chair of commitment, compromise, or conflict. In my lifetime the visible church (as it has been visible to me) has moved from chair to chair. Right now we are in the seat of conflict. Why? Because compromise always leads to conflict. The lines are drawn between the people who want to maintain the standards and those who want to compromise it. Often it is between those who remember the way standards used to be and those who were not born yet. The Devil hopes to hold out until nobody remembers the standards of the past.
Indeed, another generation arose that knew not the Lord nor the works He had done in Israel. This has always been the pattern of things. One generation raises the bar and the next generation compromises. The standards that one generation compromised the next generation criticized. The chorus grows so loud that even the compromising generation joins the criticizers. Then the next generation is completely ignorant of the standards of the past. Before long our forefathers are painted as a bunch of backward idiots that were in bondage to legalism, or some other cynical description. Many are so backslidden that they can’t even decide if homosexual marriage is wrong.
Yes, in my lifetime I have come to wonder what Christianity even is anymore. The compromise has led to so much confusion that I sometimes wonder if anyone knows what Christianity is supposed to be. I dare say that we now live in the era of standard-less Christianity. We can do everything the world does and in some cases we can do it even better! We have to ask ourselves a question though. What’s so peculiar or unique about this possession that Christ has purchased with His own blood? In what way is it over and above the world? God has always had a remnant, even in Israel. This is not who I am referring to. The Lord knows those that are His. Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves, have I chosen conformity or peculiarity? Does my life demonstrate separation from the world or conformity to it? Does my teaching and doctrine contribute to God’s design for the Church as an “over and above” kind of people?