Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Distinctively Different


  We in the Lord's Church are commissioned and should be known for being distinctively different, peculiar people. Solomon summed it up this way in our King James: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3.5 & 6).A modern speech translation reads: "Trust God first in everything, and do not merely rely on your intellect and gifts. Acknowledge His hand at work in every area of your life."


  Interesting isn't it that we want to make the church distinctively different, but we don't want to be such ourselves? But here it is, the church will be distinctively different only when we are! Only when we conform to His image, have His heart, mind, attitude, disposition and behavior. The world is watching. We're under surveillance. Few read the Bible; they are, however, reading us daily. Let us start today to become more like Him by excluding some negatives...


  By not being a Hypocrite. Paul told the church at Rome, "because of your hypocrisy, the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles" (Romans 2.23-24). Peter writes, "Because of your sensuality, the way of truth is maligned" (2 Peter 2.2). Has the name of God, the church, Jesus, Christianity, truth, the Bible, been spoken against because of our behavior? Sometimes we profess, but do not perform; talk, but do not walk; confess, but do not conform. And so, the world points to our individual hypocrisy and the church as maligned.


  By not being Divisive. God hates division! Today’s religious division leaves the impression that the Word of God cannot be understood, much less applied to life. The world is asking: are conflicting and contradictory doctrines taught in the Bible? If so, how can the Bible be a book of truth? Jesus said, "Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy word is Truth." May God help each of us to search for truth, stand for truth, practice truth. Scripture admonishes us to contend for truth, (the faith), and adorn the doctrine, not some church tradition. Let us show the world Truth, not opinion. (Jude 1.3 & Titus 2.10 KJV)


  Do not be inconsistent. We must consider what the Bible says on such things as greed, gossip, drunkenness, dress, submission to authority, pornography, abortion, responsibility of parents, racism and a thousand other subjects as we strive to become the person God calls us to be. We can't pick and choose the commands and attitudes of Jesus that we want to obey. Let us challenge one another to prayerfully consider these verses and be consistent in our beliefs and behavior: "Study to show yourself approved unto God." "Be thou an example to believers." "Let the word of God dwell in you richly." "Let your life be one that becomes the gospel." "Let your light shine that others may see your good works." "Bear with each other and forgive one another. If any of you has a grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgave you." May God bless our efforts to exclude these negatives from our daily walk.


  Let's consider some positives in our becoming distinctive,,,


Be willing to be Peculiar. God calls us to be peculiar, different people. Peter describes us as: "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people who belong to God" (1 Peter 2.9-10 KJV). Paul declares that: Jesus came to redeem us, "and to purify for Himself a peculiar people, who are eager and zealous to do what is right and good." (Titus 2.14 KJV). The idea of being Peculiar is somewhat uncomfortable to many of us. We go to great lengths to blend into the crowd, become neutral, politically correct, conforming to the mold of this world, in order to be anything but peculiar. Being like Jesus means we are to be different, peculiar in how we treat others. His agenda involved people: including the lost, the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised of His day. Paul insisted that having a Jesus heart means placing the interests of others before those of our own. Here it is church: We will never influence the world by being just like it. Amen?


By placing people before things. Jesus had a heart for people. What counts in this life is what we do for others. The Good Samaritan lives in infamy because he was willing to place people before his money. The treasures we lay up in heaven are those given in service to others, not what we grudgingly hold onto for the future.The future is today. Jesus asked the one who stored his treasure in barns for tomorrow, "then whose shall these things be?" C. S. Lewis once said, "We have become a nation that loves things and uses people." Sad isn't it?


By being holy. Perhaps nothing sets us apart from the world any more than holiness; being set apart for God's use, God's purpose. Paul contrasts genuine Holiness versus Worldliness: Sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, envy, drunkenness... etc. But the fruit of Jesus living in us is: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness... etc. (Galatians 5.19-23)


  It's not enough for us to maintain that "The Church of Christ must be Distinctively Different" without our own willingness to become like Jesus in every respect, in every arena of life: religiously, socially, politically, morally, Amen? Solomon ends his advice on this note: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12.13). Like Jesus, we must be found saying: "I came to do the will of my Father."


—Randall Caselman