More Than A Bunch of Weirdos

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

This is an often misunderstood text. There are two definitions for “peculiar”: one is, “strange, odd, or unusual,” and the other is “belonging exclusively to.” Both definitions are actually applicable to this text, but sometimes our experience with the former definition misdirects our understanding of the text. That is, we think we belong exclusively to God because of our strangeness, but, in reality, we are strange because we belong exclusively to God.

The peculiarity of the Lord’s people isn’t due to their behaviour. The Lord’s people aren’t peculiar because of their style of worship, their dress, their diet, or really anything that has anything to do with them. The verse instead notes that a peculiar people are those who have been completely transformed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ drawing them out of their darkness, out of their Babylon hearts, out of their addictions, out of their laissez-faire religion, and out of their self-righteousness.

Jesus was peculiar. Crowds of thousands followed Him just to try to figure out what He was all about. The church leaders felt threatened by Him. Political leaders and heads of state didn’t know what to make of Him either. What made Him peculiar was that He was one with the Father, and the darkness of this world doesn’t really know what to make of the Father. God is an anomoly to the world. When Jesus came into this world, the world–created by this Jesus–didn’t even know what was up:

“He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him” (John 1:10).

Jesus was peculiar because He was one with the Father and the Father acted and spoke through Him. Jesus (like the dictionary definition) “belonged exclusively to” the Father.

When God looks upon us, will He see just humanity, or will He see His Son lit up in the hearts of His people? Will His people be so filled with the love of the Father, that the darkness of this world just won’t know what to make of them? Will He see a people peculiar because they belong exclusively to Him?

It is not particulars of your life, your church, or your worship practices that make you peculiar. It is the outpouring of the love of Christ from within that makes you peculiar.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Refrigerator Love

Despite being one of the most significant inventions of modern civilization, my refrigerator and I don’t have a particularly intimate relationship.

I only go to the fridge when I’m hungry and need something to quell my hunger pangs. Sometimes I go to the fridge when I am bored, and then I stare at its contents with the door open wondering why I’m even there in the first place. I might go to the fridge when I’m sad or angry and looking for something to distract me. However, if I’m not hungry, not bored, and not sad or angry, I ignore my fridge. I honestly don’t even think about it or acknowledge its existence until I need it. It’s the most convenient life-sustaining, mood-altering, waist-expanding device in my life. It just sits quietly in the kitchen, minding its own business, until I need it.

Jesus is not a refrigerator.

But sometimes I actually treat Him like I treat my fridge. I only go to Jesus when I need something, or if I’m bored, or if I’m sad or angry. I tuck Him away, nice and neat, out of sight and mind, until I need Him–until it’s convenient for me.

Jesus was approaching the very hour when He would willingly lay down His life for humanity, and He was wrestling with the fear of absolute death from which any sinner cannot return from–the death He was dying on my behalf. John 12:27-29 (NET) reads:

“Now my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’? No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard the voice said that it had thundered. Others said that an angel had spoken to him.

Thunder? The Creator of the universe speaks and all some heard was thunder??

Perhaps they failed to recognize His voice because they didn’t know it in the first place. They’d never heard the small still voice of God through prayer and the study of scriptures, so how could they recognize it audibly? They treated God like a refrigerator–kept Him at arm’s length until they needed Him. A goodluck charm in a pocket just to ward off evil. A genie in a bottle to grant wishes when needed most. A refrigerator kept in the corner to keep quiet until sought.

The Bible regularly uses marriage as a metaphor for the kind of relationship God is looking to develop with us. Song of Solomon is a book in the Bible describing a healthy, intimate, passionate marital relationship which also is used as a metaphor for the passionate desire God has for us collectively as well as individually. He just wants to be with us! Elsewhere in scripture, His church is even repeatedly referred to as His bride!

This is not refrigerator love. This is a lifelong, engaging, sustaining, nourishing, intimate relationship!

God wants you to hear His voice, and, likewise He wants to hear yours.

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Consider prayer as an intimate, honest, raw conversation with a trusted confidant. It’s done frequently and naturally. No expectations. Just talk.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Take everything (even this blog!) with a pinch of salt and examine the scriptures for yourself. Just because someone said it or you read it online doesn’t mean it’s true. By doing so, you will come to know the truth as the Berean Jews had, and Jesus said:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Therefore, to know Jesus, one must know Scripture, and knowing Jesus through the study of scripture brings us to the Father, and being near the Father means we will recognize His voice!

This is good news!

I don’t want to treat my Jesus like a fridge anymore. I want a relationship with him more akin to a marriage.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)

120-Year Journey

Do you compare your personal walk with Jesus to the walk others are experiencing? That is, do you rate the quality of your Christian experience based on your observations of other Christians? Do you think you must be doing a fabulous job because you do more than those around you? Or alternatively do you think you must be doing horribly because everyone around you seems to be doing so much more or so much better than you?

Give yourself a moment to breathe!

Your relationship with Jesus is exactly that…YOUR relationship with Jesus. Your relationship with Jesus is unique, and the pace of your walk with Him is just as unique. Don’t look at someone else’s pace as a gauge of your own.

Consider Moses.

Having been educated in Egyptian courts but raised in Hebrew tradition, Moses was 40 years old (Acts 7:23) before he decided to pop in on his fellow Hebrews. He ended up killing an Egyptian (Exodus 2:12) and fled (2:15) to the land of Midian. Moses then spent an additional 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 7:30) being educated as a nurturing caretaker of sheep before he was finally equipped with enough experience be a leader of a nation.

Now roughly 80 years old, Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt. But even at 80, Moses still struggled in his walk with God. In fact, he actually argued with God that He could find someone better for the job and that he was a poor speaker (Exodus 4:10)!

Quick summary of the NEXT 40 years: Moses reluctantly takes the job, complains an awful lot, begs God to just kill him so he doesn’t have to put up with the Israelites anymore, and grossly misrepresents God in the presence of the Israelites…buuuut he grows to become the man who begged God to punish him and kill him rather than punish any of the Israelites despite their glaring guilt and his innocence! Talk about a change of heart! But it takes time. It took Moses 120 years to go from reluctantly and begrudgingly going along with God’s crazy idea, to being a type of Christ!

Don’t be so hard on yourself by comparing your current location in your spiritual journey to other people’s locations. All your other relationships took time to build and, most likely, are still growing! Your relationship with Jesus also takes time and will continue to mature and develop for all eternity!

Sinners Anonymous

Copied straight from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) ‘about’ section on their website:

“Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.”

Now replace “Alcoholics Anonymous” with “church” and “drinking” with “sin”. A few more adjustments, and we’ve got something new. It now reads as follows:

“Church is a fellowship of men and women who have a sin problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her sin problem.”

Imagine a church not divided by socioeconomic status, race, politics, or age. A church where each member is keenly aware of their own struggles with sin and only concerned with the sins of others in a supportive, redemptive, and healing manner. A church focused on building up others rather than self. A church united in purpose.

This is the early church of the New Testament.

And it can be your church today!

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

A church is you and like-minded believers gathering together to seek and to know Jesus!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

This is what a community of believers does for each other, but this requires absolute openness and honesty from everyone.

“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
(Romans 15:2)

Church is a place for healing and development of the whole person.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
(Colossians 3:16)

Church is a place to learn and grow with each other as we worship through song in celebration.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
(Ephesians 4:11-13)

Church is where I go to learn to become more like Christ and less like my old self. I learn about Christ by studying the only source of his promises made in the Old Testament and his promises kept in the New Testament of the Bible.

Church, like AA, is a safe place to heal, to develop my whole person, to learn, and to praise and worship. Would you like to be a member of that support group? Would you like to be a member of someone else’s support group too? Now is your opportunity!

Career Christianity

Career Christians: those who excel at following the details of their religion as well as policing others in their church, yet struggle to truly know Christ as a friend.

Moses was a career Israelite and Egyptian leader, yet God had to dump him in the desert for forty years before he become remotely useful. Job offered sacrifices on behalf of his children every single morning just in case they sinned, and God called him out for false humility and for debating his situation and the nature of God without once actually seeking God. New Testament Saul was a Career Jew who did everything by the book whom people looked up to him for guidance and inspiration–He was also a fulltime Christian-hunter. James and John were Career Christians (they actually received a personal invitation by Jesus to join Him in his ministry) who fought over who would get to sit at the right hand of Jesus in His new kingdom. Peter would later be symbolically handed the metaphorical keys to Heaven, but not before denying Jesus three times when Jesus needed a friend the most. The Jewish religious leaders polarized themselves into two extremist camps, and, despite the Roman Empire trying and finding Jesus innocent, murdered the Author of their faith.

Am I a Career Christian?

Am I so concerned, so busy, with maintaining appearances, with seeking self-righteousness, with policing others, that if the Light were to “shine in the darkness,” I would, “not comprehend it” (John 1:5)? Am I allying myself with religious camps on a spectrum to demonstrate just how much I am not associated with the other end of the spectrum that I am blind to the lost sheep caught in the middle whom, upon repentance, “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over…than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7)?

Am I so concerned with being good at my religion, at being good at my denominational dogma, at being good at…well…being good, that, upon His Second Coming, Christ will look me in the eyes and say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23)?

Is my religion getting in God’s way?
There’s hope yet!

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself And repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6)

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”(Timothy 1:12-16)

In the beginning…

Welcome to my blog about whatever pops into my head when I study the Bible, converse with others, or observe the world around me. I’ve been writing for my local church for the past few years, and some have even said they’ve been blessed by my ramblings. Thus, I figured I’d share with a wider audience.

I’m just a man exploring Scripture, so I might draw conclusions you disagree with, and I might even change my own opinions over time. I’m not trying to contradict myself; I’m just learning as I go.

If you’ve been blessed by something you’ve read here, please feel free to share it in your own circle! Someone else might be blessed as well.