Christians are supposed to be peculiar (odd, strange, unusual). We wear the name of Jesus Christ when we call ourselves Christians no differently than we carry our last names signifying what family we belong to. I would never be a sloppy Reilly, how can I settle for being a sloppy (careless, unsystematic, excessively casual) Christian living out a sloppy discipleship?

The word peculiar shows up seven times in the King James scriptures, in 1 Peter 2:9, “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 marvelous light;” and my personal favorite, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14

In KJV days, peculiar meant “belongs exclusively to some person, group, or thing” or to refer to “a property or privilege belonging exclusively or characteristically to a person.”

Our choice to be peculiar goes along with ‘being holy (set apart) because God is holy.’ Set apart should look peculiar (odd, strange, unusual) and easily identified as belonging exclusively to Jesus, not sloppy (careless, unsystematic, excessively casual).  I am not my own with my own agenda or driven by my own cause. I’m to be peculiar and not sloppy in what I do, how I think, in my drives and motivations, and how I respond to the world around me.

In a world where everything caters and is programmed around me and my preferences (cell phone, Netflix choices, radio channels, spotify playlists, Amazon wish lists, etc.) I’m so grateful that the local church is not. It’s not supposed to be.

I need the local church to sharpen my peculiarity and not permit me to be sloppy in my discipleship. The local church is a critical means of growth for healthy, peculiar Christians and healthy, peculiar Christians are needed in the local church to guard against straying outside the navigational beacons of teaching to make disciples of the Jesus-of-the-Bible in the face of competing and contradictory agendas.

Peculiar Christians are generous, percentage givers, they set aside regular time in God’s Word, spend regular time teaching littles about Jesus (Jesus calls them the ‘kingdom of God’- Matthew 18:1-6), don’t hold a grudge, teach others with a sense of urgency, let others go first, don’t forsake gathering together in some place, work hard as unto the Lord, are involved in a local church to serve others, and guard their hearts and minds from competing and contradictory agendas. These peculiar actions are not out of duty, far from it. I do these things out of love for the One and Only who left Heaven to make a way for me to be made right with the perfect, holy God of the universe.

Here are some guardrails I’ve put in place to help me choose peculiarity over sloppiness.

Stop following influencers and be the model of peculiarity in my own world. Following Jesus is the only way to grow in peculiarity for Him. Spending more daily time following influencers online will make me poor in my pocketbook and my spirit. Getting the guidance for how I should live in this world through a platform outside the Bible is sloppy. “He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.” Proverbs 12:11

Stop doing only that which is in my comfort zone. Only when I serve outside my comfort zone will I truly be inviting the Lord to do His work in me. Satisfied with being average, safe, or doing the bare minimum is sloppy. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Stop comparing myself to others. My standard for peculiarity must be Jesus and not the celebrity Christian who rolls in my feed (this is set by an algorithm or someone trying to sell me something) or who I think is the most spiritual person in the room just because they’ve been in the room the longest. Tossing my hands up just to keep the peace or because it’s hard is sloppy. “Thou shalt not covet.” Exodus 20:17

Stop waiting for permission. I’m over sitting at tables of collaboration and leadership only to continue to hear, “Let’s wait until….” It’s going to be inconvenient. I’m going to get pushback. I’m going to be told all the logical reasons why we shouldn’t. I’m over it! If the disciples had waited, the gospel would have never made it to me. I don’t like being in trouble anymore than the next person, but for goodness sake, our Great God can be trusted with the outcome and I have decided to follow Jesus. Let me set aside my selfish vices to submit to the Lord’s commands to go and make disciples teaching. We are in the mission field everywhere we go and “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

I confess that I slip into spiritual sloppiness when I’m tired, when I’m hurt, when I compare, when I have to be right, when I wear a critical spirit like a new pair of boots, and when I spend more time on my phone rather than in His Word. How do I move out of it? I repent and pray for it: a God-glorifying, Jesus-pleasing Christian peculiarity. It’s lonely and takes courage to pray for such a thing, but He is so worth it.

“Anything that would hinder us from the closest walk possible with Jesus Christ is not for us.” Amy Carmichael, missionary to India for 55 years without furlough