By Johnny O. Trail — As I drove to my office on Wednesday, I was listening to XM Satellite Radio. I seem to continually scroll through stations until I find the song I want to hear. Oftentimes I land on country music stations and listen to a great variety of artists. On this day, the disc jockey was talking about an artist who is now deceased.
I had heard of this country music performer via a compilation of people in the performance industries who were listed as being members of the churches of Christ. In addition to this performer being on the list that was provided on social media, he was singled out by many who knew him as being an excellent example of Christian living and service.
So back to the disc jockey and what he said between songs on the satellite radio. He evidently knew this gentleman very well and said, “He never drank, smoked, used tobacco, or cussed, and he was a fine gentleman who could carry on an excellent conversation. As a matter of fact, I used to tell him that he was ‘a little dull.’”
Suffice it to say that I was impressed that a person in the world would offer such a sterling review of one who was a member of the Lord’s body!
This is reminiscent of what Peter says about a Christian’s conduct among those of the world. 1 Peter 4.3-4 says,
“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.”
If this is what being dull means, it would be great if we had more “dull” people in the church.
In all honesty, it is easier to conform and avoid all manner of conflicts with people in the world. After all who wants to be seen as being dull or odd by his contemporaries? Nevertheless, God’s writ tells us that we are to be transformed into the image of Christ instead of conformed to those outside of His body. Romans 12.2 says,
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Considering the description given of this deceased brother in Christ, we should be peculiar among those who walk in “lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a 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.” We are a “peculiar or purchased” people. That is, we are purchased by the blood of Jesus, and we are his possession.
It should not be odd to hear of God’s people being described as not engaging in the ordinary behaviors of worldly-minded people. Peter states it beautifully when he says, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” Some two thousand years later our contemporaries think that Christians are “strange” that we do not engage in the same excesses they do. Indeed, friendship with the world is akin to spiritual adultery. James 4.4 says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
We are unique as followers of Christ, because we serve the most unique and sinless human to ever walk the face of the earth.If Jesus, the most loving man to ever live was hated by various elements of his own ethnic group, how much the more would his fallible followers be hated? John 15.18-20 says,
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
Moreover, it is good that this Christian had a good reputation in his community. One can live in the world and not behave in a worldly sort of manner. After the establishment of the church in Acts 2, we find that the church maintained favor with people outside of the body of Christ. Acts 2:47 says, “Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” This concept goes along nicely with one of the requirements of one who would serve as an elder. 1 Timothy 3:7 says, “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
These things being so, Scripture stands in contradistinction to those who argue that greater spirituality can be found in a monastic setting. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 says, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.” One can be spiritual and still live in a carnal world.
We need more “dull” Christians like the one referenced in the beginning of this treatise. If “dull” means having a genuinely good reputation in a world engulfed in darkness, we need these examples for unbelievers.