(I opened by reading Titus 2:11-14 from the KJV)
OPEN: Last Sunday (January 10th) was “Peculiar People Day”. Nobody knows who came up with the idea of making that a special day (somebody thinks it might have been the greeting card companies) but the whole idea of this Peculiar People day is: “To celebrate those who are eccentric, non-conformist or otherwise unique in some way.”
Someone suggested you might celebrate this day in one of following ways:
• Spend some time at a hair salon and have your hair dyed blue, pink or yellow
• Shop for groceries while listening to dance music thru your earphones and dance the day away
• If you have a pet, dress it up with a wig and go for a walk at a nearby park.
• Cook some strange but edible food for the family.
• Or visit the mall and take pictures of people doing unusual things.
All in all, the idea of a “Peculiar People Day” is that the “peculiar people” in question are those who are odd or weird in some fashion. In essence… these folks aren’t NORMAL!!!
But that’s not what the word originally meant
The word “peculiar” originally came for the Latin “peculium” which means: "private property."
Thus when the KJV was originally written in the 1600s… they used that word to describe private property, but not just any old private property. This was a treasured possession that belonged to God.
For the English speaking people of that day, “peculiar” didn’t mean something that was strange or bizarre. They understood it to be talking about something that was special to God.
For example: in Deuteronomy 14:2 God told Israel: “thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a PECULIAR PEOPLE unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” (KJV)
In other words God was saying He OWNED Israel.
They were His special treasured possession. In fact, they were so special to God… no one touched them unless He wanted them touched. They were under His exclusive protection.
And that’s pretty much what God declared in Psalm 135:4
“For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his PECULIAR TREASURE.” KJV
Now, what’s intriguing is that God says the same thing about you and I.
We are His people, His special possession too. In I Peter 2:9 God declares:
“… 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 marvelous light.” KJV
We are PECULIAR.
We are SPECIAL to God.
And because of that we are a CHOSEN generation, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY Nation, and we’ve been called out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Now, notice… THIS is what God DID for us.
We didn’t deserve to be honored like this.
You did NOT (and could NOT) do enough good deeds to buy God’s approval.
That’s what Ephesians 2 says: (Before you became a Christian, you) “were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:3b-9
You were dead in your transgressions.
You had NOTHING to offer God.
You did NOT earn your salvation… it was given to you as a free gift.
The only thing you ever did that qualified you for God’s mercy and forgiveness was that you acknowledged that you didn’t deserve it to begin with. And you were smart enough to humble yourself before His throne and accept Jesus by your belief; repentance from your sins; confession that Jesus was now going to own you (be your Lord and Master) and by allowing yourself to be buried in the waters of baptism and rise up a new creation in Christ.
Christian comedian Brad Stine noted:
“The only reason I’m a Christian is because it’s the only religion that would have me.”
And he’s right!
Jesus is the only Savior that would have folks like you and me
Why would God forgive you and me?
Because “God so loved (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomsoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
And because God loved us – and we accepted Him on His terms – God made us His peculiar possession.
Did you notice that one phrase in I Peter 2 where it said we’re “an HOLY nation, a peculiar people” I Peter 2:9
Did you see that?
What does “HOLY” mean?
First, it’s not a deep theological term.
You don’t need a college degree to understand it.
It’s a very basic word and it means “separate” or “set apart.”
The people back in the sound booth are “holy” – they are set apart from you.
The worship team on stage was “Holy” – they were separated from you.
I’m separated from you on this stage – I’m holy.
Anything that is set apart from something else is “holy.”
In Scripture, the word means you were set apart by God.
You have and I have been “set aside” from the rest of the world to be God’s treasured possession! And that makes you peculiar.
“Peculiar” (in our present day language) means “something that is DIFFERENT”
It’s not normal.
And, in a sense, we are NOT normal – we’re NOT like everybody else.
God has set us apart to be DIFFERENT than the rest in this world because God has called us to be different than this world.
God made us HOLY.
But the Bible also says: WE are to make ourselves HOLY as well.
“just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” I Peter 1:15-16
God calls you and I to be holy.
He calls us to be different than the rest of the world
He calls us to NOT be normal… to be peculiar!!!
Notice what it says in Titus 2:12
“(God’s grace) teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (NIV)
And why should we live like that???
(Because He) 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 (KJV)
God gave Himself for us so that we might be purified and become holy, different… peculiar.
Now is it a bad thing to be “different?”
I remember back when I was in High School it was.
You didn’t want to be “different” back then – it invited ridicule.
And many people shy away from being “different” in life because they learned that lesson all too well.
But being “different” isn’t always a bad thing.
It all depends on how you look at it.
ILLUS: For example – how many of you have ever been to the Arlington National Cemetery? (A number of people held up their hands). It’s just outside of Washington D.C. and it is the honored burial place of some of America’s greatest heroes.
Do you know what event is one of the highlights of a visit to that cemetery?
That’s right it’s the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Being a guard at that tomb is regarded as a high honor.
Not everybody gets to hold this position. Only 10% of the applicants pass the rigorous tests that are required including several hours a day of marching, rifle drill and uniform preparation, and every tomb sentinel is expected to completely memorize the history both of the tomb and of Arlington National Cemetery (i.e. knowing how to find the graves of all the prominent person buried in the cemetery). A guard normally serves between 1 and 1 ½ years at that post.
Each Sentry is given a special badge, called the “Tomb Guard Identification Badge” and it is one of the least awarded badges in the Army. And the sentinels at that post are held to such a high standard that if they ever do anything that is deemed behavior unbecoming a Tomb Guard or that brings dishonor upon the Tomb, their badges may be revoked even after they’ve left active duty military service. To date, since this post was established decades ago, nine individuals have lost their badges due to their conduct unbecoming.
(https://tombguard.org/tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier/the-tomb-guard/ & http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/guarding-the-tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier/#sthash.zLGKc4uy.dpuf)
(See footnote at the end of the sermon)
These soldiers are different.
They are literally “peculiar” because they’ve been set apart for a special honor.
And that’s what God has done for us.
We are a CHOSEN generation, A ROYAL priesthood, A HOLY Nation.
And we’ve been called out of darkness into his marvelous light.
And so God says: Because I’ve given you this great honor you need to live holy lives. You need to live differently than the world around you. Say “no” to UNgodliness and worldly passions.
Paul tells Timothy that there will be people who are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” II Timothy 3:2-5
Have NOTHING to do with them? Why?
Because you are called to live differently than that.
You are called to live holy lives.
In fact, Peter writes that we should “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:12
Now, why should we live that kind of life?
That verse says we live like that so that we can GLORIFY GOD.
Do you remember that Jesus said just about like that:
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and” … what? (glorify your Father which is in heaven).
We live holy lives… not because we’re “nice” people.
We live holy lives … not because we’re better than everyone else.
NO. We live holy lives because we want to glorify God.
Our righteous deeds aren’t done because more righteous than the folks outside of church… but because the God we serve is better than anything this world can offer. And we love Him so much we want others to love Him too.
One last thought…
You and I are “…a CHOSEN generation, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY nation, a PECULIAR people”
Another word for Holy… is SACRED.
ILLUS: A preacher named Rubel Shelly made these observations:
“Centuries ago somebody began spreading the false idea that the Christian life is to be understood in terms of 2 arenas -- sacred and secular.
• SACRED places were places like church buildings.
• Sacred events were things such as worship times, or baptisms or weddings.
• Sacred people were preachers or church officers (Elders/Deacons/Missionaries)
The remainder of life was declared to be SECULAR.
• So homes and farms, and stores, and schools were secular places.
• Surgery, manufacturing, accounting, teaching, driving and watching TV -- all were labeled secular.
• And ordinary people doing ordinary things like shopping, eating, and reading were secular.
This is another way to understand that.
It’s believing that the moment we leave the building…
(I went down to the exit door just off the stage and opened it)
… nothing is Sacred anymore.
Once we get in our car to leave church… we can get back to being ‘normal’ again.
(I looked out over the audience)
Are you normal?
No you’re not… you’re in the church building. You’re sacred in here.
But the moment you leave this building you’re normal again.
When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you can treat the waitress any way you want to, because you can act “normal” again.
When you go home, you can say anything you want to to your spouse and kids, because you’re “normal” now.
When you go to work tomorrow – or to school, or to the store – you can act any way you want to, because you’re “normal”.
Is that true?
Of course not!
Did you realize that the only thing that makes this building sacred is you.
We could sell this building tomorrow to a factory… it’s just a building.
The moment you go home… your home is sacred.
The moment you go to the restaurant… that restaurant is sacred.
The moment you go to work on Monday… that workplace is sacred.
Every place you go becomes sacred.
And do you know why???
Because you are a HOLY people.
You are a PECULIAR POSSESSION for God.
The Holy Spirit resides inside of you – and God goes wherever you go.
As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:16
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
Next month I’m going to Israel.
Do you know one of the phrases people use to refer to Israel?
That’s right - they call it the “Holy” Land.
The reason they do that is because the land of Israel is a special piece of property where God did a lot of things throughout the history of the Bible.
But you need to realize that the place where you sit right now is more holy than that ground.
You know why?
Because YOU are seated here.
You have the Holy Spirit residing within you and you are a Holy people.
I’m not going to go Israel because the trip will bathe me sacred light.
I’m going there because I’m interested in Bible stuff.
I’m going to see the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and Jerusalem. I’m going to get to float in the Dead Sea… and I’m going to see all kinds of cool stuff. But the most holy thing in that land will be the Christians I spend time with while I’m there (I’ll be visiting six of our churches that have been planted there).
Those Christian are more holy than that land is, just as YOU are more holy than this building is.
As Christians - everywhere you go is sacred.
Everything you touch --- is touched by a holy person.
Everything you say is a holy word
CLOSE: I want to show you a video now that explains this in a slightly different way:
(The text from this video is as follows:
“Lately it seems that we are getting more and more confused about what a church actually is.
So let’s take some time to set the record straight.
Church is not a building, though a building can be used by a church.
Church is not a denomination, though a set of beliefs can be important to a church.
Church is not about Sunday, though a church should not forsake meeting together.
Church is not about one person, or personality, though every church should be pastored.
And church is not about size or growth, though every church is called to make disciples.
So don’t think of church as an address, or a location, but rather think of church as mobile and on the move.
Don’t think of church as something built or planted, but rather think of church as something deployed.
Don’t think of church as where you are for an hour each week, but rather WHAT you are every day of the week, because the church is the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.
Feet shouldn’t sit still.
Hands shouldn’t be idle.
This is the church (showing a graphic representing people)
Church isn’t what you’re sitting through right now.
Because, you are the church.
Now go… and be the church.”)
Footnote: Be careful about the illustration about the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that is commonly used. It says, among other things "They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives". There are several errors in that illustration and I went to a fair amount of trouble to make sure the facts I presented here were accurate.