Respecting Differences In All Of Us by Dan Nelson

Scanning the sea of faces that stretches across our planet, it amazes me how much diversity exists. With such basic building blocks as two eyes, a pair of ears, a couple of eyebrows, a nose and a mouth, God has perfected variety. When we consider unique cultural backgrounds, personal histories, interests, skills, experiences, and talents, individuality is represented around the world. Marks of distinction such as these bear the imprint of the creator of all things, and the kingdom of heaven has a lot of variety in it.

The Bible teaches that when one puts her life into the hands of Jesus as Savior, trusting him as the only hope to bring restoration of relationship with God and wiping away the separation that exists through sin, she is born in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into her life to bear witness of God’s word and promises, and teach and direct the life of the one who is beginning in the things of God’s kingdom. God has adopted her into His family and begins to unveil a unique purpose in accomplishing His work among humanity. To do this, spiritual gifts are given as needed to fulfill this mission.  So not only do we reflect differences in physical attributes, but also in spiritual things.

Over the years, God has raised up many churches that reflect various traits and approaches to worship, which further demonstrates His ability to reach so many.  And yet there is another level of distinctiveness that I want to draw out here.

Romans 14 says that we also may be different, even among the people of God as disciples of Jesus, in individual convictions of right and wrong. Beyond what is common to all of us in God’s revealed message to humanity, the Scriptures teach that people may hold unique opinions on matters of morality or personal lifestyle before God that are to be upheld and respected.  The passage further reminds us not to make it our goal to change the mind of a brother or sister in a matter of personal conviction that is not an essential part of God’s kingdom.

Isn’t it interesting how we tend to like the people who agree with us and try to change the ones who don’t?

When I was 13, a friend of mine came to my house after church to spend the afternoon. She was the assistant pastor’s daughter.  We decided to go for a walk to our local drugstore and there I bought a can of Near Beer. She was against the idea and didn’t want me to get it, but I did. Although it technically was non-alcoholic and therefore was not illegal for me to purchase and drink, she had a strong conviction that it was wrong and she got mad. I popped open the can and began to drink while attempting to convince her that her opinions were irrational.  I guess I thought I was a big shot that day. She became even more angry and it was a long walk home. The truth is that I didn’t even like the taste. I was being foolish in my reasons for purchasing it and even more immature in my desire to convince her to change her mind. Her conviction was before God in that she wanted to do what is right and did not want to participate in what she perceived to be wrong. Isn’t this what we want for our kids: to stand for one’s principles against peer pressure? I erred that day and I have never forgotten it.

If we want to represent God accurately, we must learn to appreciate the picture that he is painting.  There are some things that are part of God’s truth that apply to all of us, and other things that he leaves in the hands of the individual. Isn’t it wonderful how God works? Let’s learn His ways and serve in His kingdom, not our own. Not only does this reflect our eternal purpose, it’s also much more fun when we do it God’s way.

Categories Pastors Blog | Tags: | Posted on July 21, 2017

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