My wife sent me this devotion from worshipfilms.com entitled “Are We Peculiar at All?”
In Titus, it says that God sent Jesus to “purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The word for peculiar in the Greek literally means His own possession. What is being communicated is that we are peculiar, and we act peculiarly because God owns us, we belong to Him. So, the question for us to consider is: are we actually peculiar? As a Christian, does my life stand in significant contrast to the rest of the world? And in what ways should we be peculiar?
Let me give you 5:
1. Our love for one another.You might say “There are people at church that I am close to and love, I would do just about anything for them.” That is awesome. But it’s not peculiar. You could go to a Jewish synagogue or a Muslim mosque or an Elks Lodge and probably find people that would say those same words.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:46, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
What IS peculiar is when you can be around that person in the church that has talked bad about you behind your back, and love them the same as you do your close friend. It gets peculiar when you can love the brother that has done you wrong in a business deal that way. It’s peculiar when you genuinely love and spend time with that person that everyone thinks is really hard to be around, or the person that’s boring, or the person that smells bad.
2. Our ability to forgive. A forgiving spirit is not something that we get naturally. It does not come from our human nature. The ability to truly forgive people on a consistent basis for wrongs they have done is peculiar, and it is one evidence that God owns us, that we are His possession.
Forgiving people is not easy. It is the grace of God that enables us to do it. But we have to do it. Jesus said in Matthew 6: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” That’s one of those verses that we like to water down, but Jesus meant what He said. Personally, I have found that it is a lot easier to forgive people that have hurt me, than it is to forgive people that have hurt my kids or my wife. But we don’t get a free pass on any of it. We have to lean into God’s grace until we get there and fully forgive.
How do we know we have really forgiven? I heard Joy Dawson say one time that we know we have forgiven when we no longer feel the need to tell someone else about the wrong done to us.
3. The way we spend our money. You might say “I give some money to the church, and if a friend of mine is really hurting, I try to help them out when I can.” Great, but it’s not peculiar. The Jewish guy gives to his synagogue, the atheist gives to United Way. Is there are sharp contrast between the way we allocate our resources and the way our non-Christian neighbors allocate theirs?
You might be thinking, “You are focusing on an external thing. Stuff like that has to come as a fruit of our internal relationship with God.” And that is absolutely true. But it is also true that we have a tendency to ignore the whispers of the Holy Spirit when it involves things that cost us something. The Holy Spirit is not going to force His way. You can resist and He will leave you alone. A lot of times we use logic and our own reasoning to talk ourselves out of being obedient to God. And when we do that, we miss out on the chance to be peculiar, to act in a way that demonstrates God’s ownership over our lives.
4. The way we use our time. Think through your calendar for a typical week. Then take a best guess at what one of your non-Christian neighbor’s calendars looks like. If the main difference is that we go to church while they go to the Moose lodge, and we go to life group while they go to book club, and we play church league ball while they play city league, and everything else is pretty much the same, that is not peculiar.
There should be a major lifestyle difference between us because our lives are focused on those things that God says are important to Him. Of course, we have to provide for our families. Of course, we have to invest time in our children and each other. But let me say this clearly: if we have been a Christian for years, and our lifestyle is completely focused on our family unit and getting our needs and wants met, something is wrong – that is not New Testament Christianity.
Donald Miller said, “The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: life is a story about me.” We should be living a lifestyle that spends a substantial amount of time reaching out to others. Maybe that takes the form of taking time to have coffee or lunch with a friend who doesn’t know Jesus. Maybe it takes the form of investing time and energy to raise money so that someone you have never met can have a place to live. Maybe it means investing time in kids that don’t have a dad or mom in their life. God may call you in any number of things. But the bottom line is that our calendars should look peculiar, they should be in sharp contrast to those of unbelievers. It’s like the old saying “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
5. The way we handle adversity. These are tough times for most people. And I believe that it is God’s desire that we be a source of strength, steadiness, and encouragement to our non-Christian neighbors. If we can lean into God ourselves, and draw on the strength and peace He gives us, then we will be peculiar in a time when people are overwhelmed and lost.
Let’s live our lives in such a way that without any words, everyone around us knows that we are God’s peculiar possession, that He owns us.