The Puritans played a pivotal role in the early history of America. Much of what they practiced has been carried forward since their arrival in the 16th century. These days many consider them to be a peculiar people when compared to the myriad of practices found in the world today.
On two occasions in the King James Version of the Bible we see the term peculiar people being presented first in representing the Israelites in Deuteronomy 14:2 and then the early Christian church in 1 Peter 2:9.
The Quakers were often referred to as a Peculiar People. The term was later ascribed to an offshoot of the Methodist denomination in the 19th century. In those days the term was not considered a criticism but was used in a constructive sense as a badge of honor.
These days peculiar people are considered to be out of touch with society and social mores. So just who are the peculiar ones these days? That rhetorical question certainly warrants an appropriate response. Actually I consider myself to be one of those who is considered out of touch with social mores.
You see the Word of God gives me direction and lets me know that I must do to remain separated from most of the ways of this world, which are not pleasing to Him. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus cautions, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Most of you have heard these words in some manner before, but many prefer to not take the narrow path that Jesus tells us leads to abundant life.
Since 1984 I’ve done my best to walk that narrow path since I was first instructed by several godly men to do so. In those early years, I found myself spending much of my time with other Christians until I was properly grounded in the faith.
Over the past three decades, I’ve found that I need to be more active in the mission field — in the marketplace where I can subtly pursue those who do not know God’s revealed plan of salvation.
Still, I’m sure some consider me a bit peculiar since my strict adherence to God’s Word keeps me from partaking in what was once a vicarious lifestyle. Before I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord my personalized license plate read INTENZ 1. I truly lead an intense lifestyle and am not at all proud of my past actions.
During the last 30-plus years my new personalized license plate reads ITHIEL 1. ITHIEL (ith’-i-el) is a Hebrew word found twice in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:1 and Nehemiah 11:7). It literally means “God is with me,” and when asked the meaning and pronunciation I always tell people that it’s not at all exclusive.
It’s a great opening conversation piece that gets people to consider thinking about the inclusivity of God’s love for mankind. Yet it doesn’t take the conversation to the significant topic of obedience. That’s fine, since obedience can only come after the difficult decision to truly follow Christ and trust in His work on the cross.
Let’s look at this narrow path and the implications of following Christ in the marketplace. It’s important to not get caught up in the ways of this world, which means we must do business quite differently than the world does business.
Placing the needs of others before your own needs can pay great rewards in business dealings. Yet many bosses slyly prefer to staff their stores and offices with people who aggressively sell and are not always genuine in their approach. The Bible tells us that such practices will catch up with those who deceive others. That’s been my experience in business.
Listen to these encouraging words found in Psalm 20:4-7: “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
We peculiar people may not be a majority, but we are guaranteed a victorious life here on earth and for eternity. Please consider taking the road less traveled!
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at email@example.com for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.