O Lord, God of Israel, you are just, but we have escaped as a remnant, as is now the case. Here we are before you in our guilt, though no one can face you because of this. Ezra 9:15

The exiles returning from Babylonian enslavement, under Ezra’s leadership, struggle to maintain their identity as a people and a nation. This involves some attitudes and practices—like avoiding intermarriage with their Gentile neighbors—that we might find off-putting or offensive.

We face a similar challenge as we navigate a secular society that exalts egotism, competitiveness, acquisitiveness, vanity, exploitation, violence, and other values contrary to the way God asks us to live. These backward values are embedded in our culture in ways we’re not even consciously aware of.

What are we doing to maintain the integrity of our identity as people of God? Are we ready to be seen as peculiar? Are we willing to pay a price for being seen as remnants of grace and goodness?

MOVING FORWARD: Have you witnessed (or experienced yourself) ridicule for being “peculiar,” for standing up for God? How did you respond?