The word ‘peculiar’, in common usage, means, ‘different to what is normal or expected; strange’. So, wearing a clown suit on a commuter train – that’s peculiar. Planning a romantic weekend getaway in Bankstown – that’s peculiar. Writing a novel with a crayon – that’s really peculiar.
This year’s church camp theme is ‘Peculiar People’ because Christians are supposed to be people whose behaviour is different to what is normal or expected; even a little bit strange to a watching world.
We’re not to conform to the pattern of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1). The Holy Spirit has not been poured into our lives to help us blend in, but rather to shine forth as those saved out of the world. We are to be holy as God is holy.
But the word ‘peculiar’ also has another particularly British usage, not this time as an adjective, but a noun. A ‘peculiar’, in this sense, is ‘a parish or church exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it lies, and subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch or an archbishop’.
On that definition every Christian, indeed every church, can safely be called a ‘peculiar’. Though we remain in the world, we have been set free from the jurisdiction of Satan, the prince of this world. It’s a kingdom transfer. We now find ourselves subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch of monarchs, our great high priest and saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peculiar! That’s me in Christ. I hope it’s you too.