16 August, 2022

Peculiar People

by | 17 May, 2021

By Jon Wren

Today, many Christian churches celebrate Pentecost Sunday. The Day of Pentecost, which occurred 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and shortly after his ascension to heaven, was eventful. On that day, according to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended on believers and caused them to spontaneously begin speaking “in other tongues . . . [about] the wonders of God” (vv. 4, 11) to “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven . . . [who] heard their own language being spoken” (vv. 5-6).

This drew a large crowd (as you might expect) who then, in turn, listened as Peter preached a sermon which led many to repent, choose to follow Christ, and be baptized. You could call that a full day!

Over the centuries as Christ followers have read and reflected on those events, much attention has been paid to all the implications of that incredible day. But there is one important detail that often is overlooked. Acts 2:12-13 says many people were confused by these events and some observers thought Jesus’ followers were all just drunk!

From the first century up through today, many people have watched the church and noticed that something about it is different, unique, or even a little odd. Several years after the events of Acts 2, Peter wrote to the church and described what it really meant to follow Jesus:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

While most modern translations of this passage say, “special possession” or “people,” the original English translation says “peculiar people.” In other words, according to Peter, following Christ doesn’t mean blending in, but rather, standing out and being a little odd.

Peter obviously had a point. Holding grudges is normal, but forgiveness is rare. Playing favorites is normal, but accepting others is unusual. Trying to prove yourself and your worth is normal, but trusting in and believing in Christ’s love doesn’t always come naturally.

So, as we take Communion today, let’s remember and celebrate that we are forgiven because of Christ and his work on the cross. Beyond that, remember that we are loved, redeemed, freed, and well . . .  peculiar!

Jon Wren works with the Office of Civil Rights, addressing the impact of gentrification on school desegregation. He loves history, college football, and once got a ticket for driving too slowly.

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