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Chosen, Special, and Transforming toward Goodness



The apostle Peter gave us an immensely important Christian concept in his first letter.  The KJV renders Peter’s thought this way: “But 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 marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).” Peter is making several points about people who have been adopted into God’s family.  First, he argues that they’re chosen. Second, he argues that they’re holy, and third, that they’re peculiar, and fourth – perhaps most significantly – that we should weave all of these elements together into a kind of visible praising of God. Consider the KJV’s use of the word “peculiar.” When it was translated, the word “peculiar” had a different meaning than it does today.  At that time, it meant property, belonging, or unique possession. For instance, cattle from the Lazy S Ranch are branded in a way that shows they are peculiar to that ranch – that is to say that they are a possession of the ranch.  Your voice, or your writing, or your style of dress show that those things are peculiar to you – that is to say that when someone reads your writing, hears your voice, or sees your clothes they know by the uniqueness of those things that they are yours.  Traits and elements about a thing show that it belongs to someone. The word peculiar still holds that meaning today, but it is no longer the chief meaning of the word.  Today, “peculiar” chiefly means odd, strange, or different, without any reference to ownership or possession. Peter is really saying the same thing in three different ways.  We’re chosen – meaning that we are selected out by God from the rest of the world’s masses of people; that we are Holy – meaning that we are set apart from everyone else by God; and that we are peculiar – meaning that we belong to God and are his special possession. All three indicate that we belong to God.  In fact, we listen to God’s voice when others don’t because we belong to him (John 10:27). 


Those descriptions steer us toward Peter’s bigger point, which is that our ownership by God should be visible in our praise.  Obviously, Peter believes we should praise God with our mouths, but there are other more trustworthy ways that better demonstrate our peculiar identities as a child of God and bring praise to his goodness. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12 that we who are chosen by God should be clothed in righteousness, gentleness, kindness, tenderheartedness, and patience. He later instructs his student Timothy that he (and by extension all Christians) should pursue righteousness, gentleness, perseverance and faith (1 Timothy 6:11). Jesus says that his followers are known by their love for one another (John 13:34-35), and John tells us that love should be genuine, and evident in our deeds (1 John 3:18). 


One of the big truths in the New Testament is that when a person truly becomes a follower of Christ, they are transformed into a new creature.  That new creature becomes like God in that he or she takes on some of the attributes of God because God now indwells them with his Holy Spirit.  A fundamental property of God is that he does good things because he is good, and not that he is good because he does good things. Likewise, followers of Christ should become known as good – not because they do good things, but because God’s goodness in them produces good fruit.  


How would someone know that you are a peculiar follower of Christ?

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