It gives God great pleasure to search throughout the Earth to find people who will serve him in spirit and truth with their whole heart. He gets joy out of sharing his spiritual blessings with people who are set apart for his service. But finding such people among the population has always been a rare thing for him because most people are content with doing things that most other people around them are doing, thanks to their sin nature. God wants us to be exceptional, but the majority of us despise the exceptional and choose to cling to the exceptionable.
To be exceptional means that one is different from, or rises above, the norm. This speaks of a mentality that is not content with just going with the flow so as not to rock the boat when a better way exists. An exceptional person sets their standards high and strives to meet those standards even when they fall flat on their face. In the spiritual sense, a person is exceptional when the standards they set are the standards that please God.
An exceptionable person, spiritually speaking, is one who does objectionable things that are offensive, rude, reprehensible, and unpleasant in the eyes of God. The root cause of this is the sinful nature we’re all born with.
Throughout human history, whether biblical or secular, we see all kinds of examples where the exceptional is traded for the exceptionable and where the exceptionable resists the exceptional. God set Israel apart to be exceptional, not because they were righteous within themselves, but to fulfill earlier covenants he made with their ancestors. He wanted to show them how a righteous theocracy worked under Mosaic law with its judges and priests. But Israel saw how all the nations around them operated and wanted to be like them even though those nations were worse off. So the nation rejected God’s exceptionalism and made themselves exceptionable.
Nations like England, Canada, and the United States set up laws based on Judeo-Christian values straight from the Bible. Even when they got off track with sinful behavior throughout their history, their biblical foundations helped them right wrongs like slavery. But eventually they rejected godly exceptionalism that made their nations great and began trading it for exceptionable practices and philosophies whose foundations are based on hatred of the idea that God’s ways make us better people.
Now churches are following suit. The Christian church was once known for helping widows, orphans, and the poor when they created hospitals, orphanages, and other organizations without any government help. Churches were also known for preaching the pure gospel that says we are all sinners and only Christ can save us–a message that was backed by the power of the Holy Spirit exhibited through the spiritual gifts and miracles. Although these ministries still happen through the church, they have been greatly diminished by churchgoers who are either Christians given to their fleshly nature or they attend religious functions but aren’t saved. So we are left with a large number of congregations that reject God’s exceptionalism as found in his Bible, his plan of Christ-based salvation, and in the genuine power of the Holy Spirit, for the exceptionable beliefs of adopting what the unsaved world embraces based on what feels good or sounds good to the flesh.
As the old computer programming phrase goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” We put in the garbage of thinking sex outside of marriage is okay, and we’re getting out of it the garbage of child molesters and every other sexual sin with it in the church. We put in the garbage of lusting for material possessions and we’re getting out of it the garbage of people stealing from the church or misappropriation of church funds.
Will the church of exceptionalism become prominent again in the West over the exceptionable church so prevalent in our postmodern era?
Harry A. Gaylord