A thought came to me recently while reading the letters to the editor in a magazine. Several letter writers trotted out their own tales of misery and abuse in the course of making their points about the article they disagreed with. And I realized something about human nature: we all wear our disadvantages like a badge. Not only do we often puff ourselves up so we can feel better about ourselves, we proudly display our hardships and flaws so we seem more worthy of sympathy. Moses is an example of this when he told God he couldn’t talk to Pharoah because he stuttered. This is just the other side of the coin of pride. We want to set ourselves apart from others, whether through trumpeting our accomplishments or bemoaning our disadvantages.
But that is not the way of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we have already been set apart. 1Peter 2:9-10 says:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (ESV)
In the King James, verse 9 says we are a “peculiar” people, in the sense of being distinctive, set apart. Other synonyms include particular, unique, singular and exclusive. We are holy and distinctive and exclusively God’s because He said so. Not because of our own accomplishments or because of our own suffering. Only through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross can we have any hope of holiness.
Our badge of distinction as Christians comes not from who we say we are, but from who God says we are when we accept the gift of salvation.