What does it mean that Christians are a “peculiar people?” Dictionary.com defines peculiar as: strange, odd, unusual, distinctive in nature, belonging exclusively to some person, group, or thing. Now, although some believers are no doubt odd, and even though we ought to be unusual – by the world’s standards – in our attitudes and behaviors, our New Testament designation as peculiar (Greek: periousios) actually describes us as belonging exclusively to God as His “prized treasure” or “special possession.”
In other words, God owns all of creation, but believers in Christ are especially precious to Him. We have heard that God is a jealous God, and that the Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin, and both of these statements are better understood when we realize just how much we mean to our heavenly Father. It’s as if your own beloved husband or wife is flirting with someone else, or deliberately doing things to hurt you. You are jealous; you are grieved. So is God.
Being God’s prized possession means that we can always be confident of His love for us, His willingness to forgive, His promise to supply our needs, and His desire to order our steps as we navigate the circumstances of this life.
Yet for all of this, we so often disregard God’s love and the special place we hold in His heart. It’s as if God offers us everything – Himself – and we respond with a ho-hum, uncomprehending attitude, pursuing other interests, money, worries and cares, fumbling our way through life, never drawing near to God or receiving all that He wants to give us. At the same time we manage to indulge our sinful nature in various ways, insulting the Spirit of grace and treating the death of Christ with contempt. Sadly, the Bride of Christ is often a pretty lousy spouse.
Nevertheless, we remain precious to God. His patience and grace toward us are beyond comprehension. He will never stop pursuing us with a jealous love, to rescue us from our own self-destruction. If we require discipline, God will discipline us as a Father disciplines His child, for our own good and salvation. Thank God that He does not “divorce” us in the midst of our unfaithfulness, but tirelessly works to turn us toward Himself.
Some people – mostly theologians – will insist that eternal life cannot be gained and then lost by anyone, but Scripture makes clear that it is possible to be “enlightened” by the gospel, to “taste the heavenly gift,” to “share in the Holy Spirit” and the “goodness of God” and the “powers of the coming Age,” and then to fall away. Likewise, Peter tells us that it is possible to escape the corruption of the world by “knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” and then to again become entangled and overcome. Knowing Jesus here implies a very personal relationship beyond mere belief in some facts, and so, yes, any of us can fall away if we persist in disobedience and, eventually, unbelief. Nevertheless, God will work mightily to prevent such a falling away from happening, because we are – each one of us – His “prized treasure” purchased by the blood of His own Son.
How can you make your calling and election sure? For starters, wake up from your slumber! Recognize God’s great love for you as His “peculiar” son or daughter. Place a high value on your status as God’s “prized treasure” by pursuing love, righteousness, and obedience to His life-giving Word. Flee from sexual immorality, lust, greed, hatred, drunkenness, and every earthly pursuit that draws you away from God. Show God that He is your beloved, your “treasure of great value” and that when it comes to making time for prayer and fellowship with Him, everything else can wait. After all, being “peculiar” is a wonderful gift!
Ref: Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 10:26-31; Hebrews 6:4-8; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 2 Peter 1:3-11