“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;
…are now the people of God:
…now have obtained mercy.”
~1 Peter 2:9,10 (KJV)
To begin, let us consider a couple of synonyms for ‘peculiar’: nonconformity and unconventionality. When Christians choose to live a faithful holy life, truly by the faith they profess, the world sees them as peculiar because they do not conform to this world. They are unconventional in how they conduct life because they allow God’s Word to transform their thinking which in turn matures their behaviors to His ways. (Ro. 12:2)
The word for ‘PECULIAR’ comes from the Latin word ‘peculium’. It actually means “private property”. Those who translated God’s Word into what is now known as The King James Version of The Bible, used the word ‘peculiar’ to explain the weirdness of such a holy people belonging to God. The lifestyle of Christians seemed odd to those who did not choose to live their lives according to God’s ways. The Christian community was a minority living with the realization that Jesus had redeemed them, that they now belonged to The Eternal who is holy. Truth had changed their desires and purposes; they lived to glorify their Redeemer who had purchased them with His own sinless blood. In fact, the later translations replace ‘peculiar’ with ownership wording such as “His own special people” (NKJV), “a people belonging to God” (NIV), “A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION”(NASB), and “a people given up completely to God” (BBE). No matter how it is translated, we know that we are no longer of this world even though we still have a physical body keeping us here.
We are here for a purpose. Think about it. If God did not have a purpose for us here, would He not just ascend us into Heaven the moment we became His? No, like Jesus, we have a purpose~ to work at His Kingdom Business. The Message version explains it this way: “9-12… you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. … this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration…”
In his book, Living As A Christian, A.W. Tozer quotes the Quaker mystic writer, Thomas Kelly, as saying a Christian is “such a wonderful, weird, strange, and puzzling creature” because “He is both animal and spirit, insisting upon living for the spiritual while down here in his mortal body, making a Christian a funny fellow.” Tozer goes on to give an example of the peculiarity of a Christian:
Take for example, two men living on the same street…side by side. They are as different as night and day. One is a good-natured, easy-going. Relaxed, downright old sinner on his way to hell but does not believe it. He is easy to get along with, bothers nobody, is friendly and waves when he goes down the street. … Living along side of him is a Christian, one that has been born again and has been given the blessed Holy Ghost…, but he has his troubles. He weeps when there is nothing to weep about and is moody when there is no reason. He is preoccupied when someone is standing next to him wanting to talk. … He’s not as comfortable a fellow as the sinner is, and he does not act quite the same.
As Spirit-filled Christians, I would hope we can be somewhat more sensitive to the people around us than the man in the example. However, it does give a picture of how we live in and out of two worlds simultaneously and how others could perceive us as ‘peculiar’ when caught weeping and acting not “quite the same”. We live day by day aware this world is not our home that we are just passing through. We even encourage ourselves by singing songs about it. Jesus says, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world. . . “(Jhn. 15:19)
Although our primary purpose is to win souls and make disciples, encouraging one another is one of our obligations here. Without encouragement from like-believers, we simply would not make it through this world victoriously. My pastor is continually reminding us, “Spiritual maturity is a group project.” We need ‘The Body’ to help us grow up; fellowship is nourishing to our souls. The early church did not do it alone and neither can we.
Encouragement was Peter’s objective. He was encouraging some of the early Jewish believers who were facing persecution and had been exiled from their homes. His message does not give them excuses to have pity parties; his motive and main message for tough times is to persevere through tests and trials. He even tells them they should not be surprised by them nor to consider it strange that they occur. He encourages them to continue in obedience to The Word they have heard, to behave in no ways less than to reflect praiseworthy lives with conviction. He encourages them to continue in prayer, love, forgiveness, hospitality, service, and any spiritual giftings they possess until the end of their journeys here on earth.(1Pet. 4) He reminds them that they belong to God and Jesus had suffered so they could “take on a divine nature”. He reminds them that by continuing in their faith, they will “add to faith” and develop the very characteristics of God. (2Pet. 2)
Peter’s writings continue to encourage us today. They encourage us to prove we belong to God by imitating Jesus who is “the cornerstone” on which our faith is built, to become “living stones”, living in obedience as not to stumble as the unbelieving Jews had. (1Pet. 2:4-8) They encourage us to live with conviction so we can answer any questions asked by unbelievers, to treat other believers as well as non-believers with “gentleness and respect”. They give encouragement for us to persevere by looking forward to that day when we finally pass from this world to the next. Until then, let us continually encourage one another to be “peculiar” by living faithful, holy lives.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
from The Father:
“‘Thus you are to be holy to Me,
for I the LORD am holy;
and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”
(Lev. 20:26, NASB)
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up.
You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it.
Live out your God-created identity.
Live generously and graciously toward others,
the way God lives toward you.”
from John, ‘The Beloved’ of Jesus:
“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us
—He calls us children of God!
It’s true; we are His beloved children.
And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him,
the world does not recognize us either.
My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family;
and we are officially His children now.
The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear,
but we know this much: when Jesus appears,
we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.
All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure.”
(1Jhn.3:1-3, The Voice Bible)