The Old Covenant
Deuteronomy 28:9-10 (CSB)
“The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he swore to you, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you bear the Lord’s name, and they will stand in awe of you.”
In the final reiteration of the Old Covenant, Moses and the Levitical priests had reminded the Israelites just prior to their crossing of the Jordan, that it is their obedience to the commands and statutes of said covenant by which “all the peoples of the earth” would see that they bear the Lord’s name. How they dressed (Lev 19:19, 27-28, Num 15:38-41, Deu 6:4-8) what they ate (Lev 11), their weekly Sabbath observance (Lev 23:3), among other things, would together demonstrate to the rest of the world that they were different, that they were not only God’s people, but that they were considered strange or odd by worldly customs. The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “peculiar” to describe their unique, day to day, living practices, as laid out in the Old Covenant prescription…
Exodus 19:5 (KJV)
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine…”
The New Covenant
In the New Covenant, however, what marks or identifies the covenant member (Christian) to the unbelieving world is more than just how one might dress, eat, or even worship God in church. Though these things can be a wonderful witness, they can also very easily be faked. What truly let’s the world know that one is a Christian is one’s demonstration of love for fellow believers. Such is the basis of identifying who is of the New Covenant and who is not.
John 13:34-35 (CSB)
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Our outward appearances are not enough to identify us as Christians. It is our love for one another which provides the evidence.
Because, the world does not love Christians…
Here’s Jesus, again…
John 15:19 (CSB)
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”
A Peculiar People Love the Brotherhood
It’s an odd thing, according to the world, to love Christians. But, it’s not an odd thing for the world to embrace ethnic peculiarities, like different modes of dress, diet, and religious practice. Such things are not threatening to the world, because they do not really impede on worldly virtue. However, what is threatening to the world are the unique peculiarities which mark the Christian.
Because, when good is done to the Christian, good is then done to Christ…
Matthew 25:31-46 (CSB)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Exemplifying love, not just towards those of the world, but for the “least of these brothers and sisters of mine,” is what we (Christians) ought to strive for. It’s what marks us…
1 John 3:10 (CSB)
“This is how God’s children and the devil’s children become obvious. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother or sister.”
Here is Peter describing believers in more detail from the KJV…
1 Peter 2:9-17 (KJV)
“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 marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
Godspeed, to the brethren!