Did God really mean for us to be "peculiar"? (Titus 2:14.) Or did He mean something else entirely than the usual modern meaning of the word? This amusing article will help you see in what way you should NOT be "peculiar" — especially at the Feast of Tabernacles.
IN THE King James translation of the Bible, God's people are referred to as a "peculiar people" (Titus 2:14), an unfortunate wording almost as unhelpful as the one which mentions Easter instead of Passover! Actually, the original Greek says we are a people "special to God." We are a "purchased" people (I Pet. 29) — purchased by the blood of Christ (I Cor. 6:20). But that doesn't mean we are PERFECT! Some of us, perhaps especially at the Feast of Tabernacles, engage in some ludicrous behavior. We do things or say things we ought not. That's to be expected of course, knowing human nature, but some of these situations cast a bad light on God's Church, and they are all so unnecessary. With a little forethought, most of these situations can be easily and totally avoided. Those who cause these little incidents don't sit up nights planning them. Sometimes the perpetrators are part-time inconsiderates. At best, their antics are ridiculous and even amusing. When Feast time rolls around, are you sometimes "peculiar" in the sense of being "odd"? Check yourself and your behavior against that of the following compiled and categorized care causers: DOME DUSTERS are the people who walk along a row of seats at the Feast and heedlessly drag coats, blankets, bags, Bibles, notebooks and even small children across the heads of those seated in the row just in front. Hairdos are harried, toupees twisted, scarves pulled loose and general hirsute havoc created as a result. Then just about the time the victims have started to recover, the offenders have decided that there is better seating back somewhere whence they came. They return, repeating their destructive performance, this time brushing all hair in the opposite direction! About the only way to avoid "dome dusters," who always seem to strike without warning, is to stay hunched forward in an awkward posture that would indicate to others that a stomach ache is in progress. This could be deeply fascinating to onlookers — until they are suddenly aware that dome dusters are passing over them! God's Word says, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31). None of us likes to have our domes dusted. So don't become a "dome duster" at the Feast this year. AISLE IDLERS — Having picked their seats and staked them out with piles of personal property, they spend the last twenty minutes or so before services knotting in the aisles to visit with other aisle idlers while streams of people struggle to get around them. Finally aisle traffic becomes so intense that it breaks up the clumps of dawdlers. With most of eight days for visiting, these busy spots would seem to be poor places to renew acquaintances and talk over old times, but having been deprived of the opportunity to finish their conversations, the "aisle idlers" can look forward to reuniting next day, same time, same place. The Bible says there is a time and a place for all things (Eccl. 3:1,7), but in the aisle, just before services, is NOT the place nor the time for last-minute fellowshipping! Don't you be an "aisle idler." WAITER WORRIERS are those few who unthinkingly create awkward scenes in restaurants by loudly informing the help about unclean foods or other problems. To muddle matters even more, some "waiter worriers" have a peculiar, groundless belief that members of the Church should expect special treatment and service from others, especially those working in public places. They tend to be impolite, boisterous, demanding and noisy. Of course all this causes embarrassment to normal Church members who happen to be present, and may help convince waiters, waitresses and other onlooking strangers that all God's people are frantic fanatics! Do you abide by the admonition of the Apostle Paul: "Let all things be done decently and in order" (I Cor 14:40)? CONVERSATION CRASHERS are the enthusiastic, super-sociable ones who try to spread themselves out in all social directions at the same time. They have an uncanny adroitness for barging in for long visits with friends just when those friends are visiting with other friends, whether they are at a dining table, in a motel room or a phone booth. True, everybody should be happy to see everybody else, but there are favorable times for everything. Surprise visits can perforate plans previously made with other friends. Don't be a "butt-in-ski" type. Control that urge to say "hello" until you have a fitting opportunity. Remember and apply the principle: "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness" (Prov. 15:2). RESTROOM RESORTER REGARDERS — What is there about people walking to restrooms during services that is so profoundly fascinating to so many others! A weary mother carrying or dragging an offspring out for relief can unwillingly command the attention of a host of heads, turning in slow unison, as though they were all hooked to the same set of neck muscles. She's stared at as if the beholders had never before beheld a human being. One might well imagine that all those fixed eyes do precious little for the watched woman, who understandably might never return to those parts. These starers also have their counterparts in BABY BAWLER BEHOLDERS and COUGHER CONTEMPLATERS, whose unswerving attention can be seized and held by the most commonplace sounds and sights. Again, the words of Solomon come to mind: "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee" (Prov. 4:25). So don't allow yourself to be distracted from the sermon or speaker at the podium. TRUMPET-TONGUED TALKERS speak out loud and clear, even during sermons when it's seldom necessary to communicate with others. These arc generally the same ones who speak in stentorian tones in still, silent restaurants so that everyone present is forced to take in their remarks, regardless of how personal, painful or unscintillating. Captive audiences must in suppressed pain bear up under their resounding jokes, always emphasized by their own laughter of jolting volume. Of course all this is heightened, if possible, anytime they've had one drink too many. Do you heed the scriptural admonition, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles" (Prov. 21:23)? Or are you a "trumpet tongued talker"? DEACON DISREGARDERS are the Independent ones who believe that rules and regulations apply to all except them, and that their decisions are best, regardless of how much planning and work has been done by others for their benefit. They prefer to choose their own parking places and know how to most effectively clog the aisles and rows with their belongings, especially their babies and baby beds. To and from services they take shortcuts by striding across roped-off areas. At lunch time they become PEOPLE PLUNGERS by dashing out furiously so that they can be first at their favorite eating places. They have a "me-first" attitude and disregard rules, regulations and the feelings of other people. They have forgotten the words of Paul who said: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls [deacons are striving to protect and benefit your soul or "life" in a physical sense), as they that must give account" (Heb. 13:17). NOTES NOTERS — the curious ones who peer out of the corners of their eyes at what others are writing during services — must suffer some insufferable frustrations whenever they find themselves seated beside people with completely illegible penmanship. To discourage these "notes noters" who almost shove their victims out of their seats in their attempts to get close enough to read as much as possible, it's generally effective to boldly jot down: "I'm sorry you're having so much difficulty reading this, but it isn't easy to write when I'm being leaned against"! A scripture which might apply to these zealous peerers and peepers is found in the Proverbs: "It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling" (Prov. 20:3). FRIENDLY SEAT SAVERS are those who don't feel inclined to arrive at the site for services sooner than the last possible moment. Obtaining seats doesn't worry them. Sometimes they employ that subtle (to them) but antiquated (to the deacons) device of sending their children to claim the seats far in advance. Unattended youngsters aren't very prone to calmly sit for half an hour or an hour or even for ten minutes. They're more likely to make a playground out of the auditorium. Another hackneyed reservation practice is that of friends holding seats for premeditated late arriving by other friends. Maybe those friends never make it, and valuable seats are held for nothing. Or perhaps the two parties end up in different parts of the auditorium and nothing turns out as planned except that some usher isn't as happy as he otherwise would be. Examine yourself. Do you fit in one, two, three or even all of the above categories? Perhaps you're a card-carrying member of Peculiar Peoples Anonymous. Should your name, because of the way you sometimes act, be changed to A. Peculiar Fanatic, Esquire.' All of God's people, should be a holy, well-mannered, friendly, considerate people. We should follow the example of Jesus Christ in all things (I Pet. 2:21). We should NOT be "peculiar" — that is, in the sense of being "queer," "weird," "odd," or "strange." What kind of Christian example do you intend to set this year at the Feast of Tabernacles?