Peculiar people

Deuteronomy 14: 2

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His personal possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

God chose the Israelites to be His chosen people. That choice has now been extended to us, the believers in Jesus as the Christ. This verse is important in a couple of ways. First, so that we understand that we are a chosen, holy people unto God. Second, that this selection means things are different for us than for others.

First, the key thing to understand about being a chosen people is that we have been set apart. God has opened the gates to all who will believe in Him and accept Him as their God. This confuses people because it sounds like everyone is part of His personal possession. God has determined that those who will come into relationship with Him shall be set apart as a Holy people for Him. We have some say in this determination when we give ourselves to His lordship. After that event, He sets us apart from other humans to be His special and chosen people. There is a clear delineation in god’s sight between those who have been set apart and those who have not. He sees His chosen as a distinct group, clearly different from others. We are a Holy People, a Royal Priesthood, serving the Lord God.

Second, the King James Bible’s translation for this verse calls us a “peculiar” people. Peculiar reflects the “set apart” status. It also shows a difference between God’s people and others. The Israelites looked different, ate differently and had other habits which were unique to them. God gave them a set of practices which improved their hygiene and kept them safe. He has done the same for us. The “rules” God gives us are meant to keep us safe and to aid us in being successful. These rules, when we follow them, tend to make us different too. We don’t look the same, act the same or speak the same as non-believers. So, if someone thinks you are odd, you might be right on track.

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Luke 7: 22 – 23

And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard; the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. 23 And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”

John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the one the Jews were awaiting, the Messiah. Above is Jesus’ response. Verse 22 makes perfect sense; it is about what you would expect Jesus to say but what about verse 23. Isn’t that one of the most amazing statements?

I really had not thought about people stumbling over Jesus. He is our light but think about Jews. I suppose quite a few have stumbled over him. Still though, I perceive that there is much more to this statement than first appears. Over the last 5 years or so since I first began thinking about this verse, I have noticed that quite a few of us do stumble over Jesus.

This has been startling to me. This stumbling seems to take the form of not wanting to acquiesce to his leadership or to his words. We read the Word and right there, in plain sight is a mandate and yet are unwilling to yield. Here is one example, you can think of many others. Jesus says plainly, “Forgive” and yet some of us will go to our graves with unrepentant anger and unforgiveness. How about this one, “Do not judge”? Again, it’s pretty clear what this commandment demands. You don’t need a theologian to explain it to you but every day we judge others and condemn whole populations to hell.

The truth of the matter is that many of us routinely trip over Jesus. Who knew? Well, I guess Jesus did. He knew that people would struggle with living life according to the Spirit of truth and the way of the Kingdom rather than living according to the world’s rules and standards. “The Way” is not the common way. Following Jesus necessarily means being different. We are called a peculiar people. “For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; and the Lord has chosen you to be a peculiar people to Himself, above all the nations on the earth” (Deuteronomy 14: 2 Amplified). And speaking of Jesus Paul wrote “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2: 14). But people stumble over Jesus. They stumble over the love commandment. People who claim to love Jesus and who present a holy life to outside observance trip over his words and the nudges of the Holy Spirit.

Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” Our blessing is in our adherence to Jesus and his ways. Salvation, in all its forms, is in him. I don’t think we can ignore his words and teachings and still experience his grace. This seems to be a package deal. Are you in or are you out? Be blessed in Jesus’ name!