I lived in many places and I traveled a fair bit. Divisions are everywhere. Rural people are different than urban people. Rich people are different than poor people. West coast people are different than prairie people. Add in different ethnics and you have a whole lot of differences.
Now what do we do? We’re not all the same. Or are we?
Ever notice your neighbors? They’re not like you! Some of our neighbors look like us and act like us, but we’re all different. I lived in some areas in which everybody looked and acted the same. I now live in a more diverse area in which people act different from one another.
Here is the famous Andy life equation that you never heard about because I just made it up.
Difference does not equal division. This changes everything!
Think about your own family. Not too many of your brothers and sisters are the same are they? The same with your kids. One might have light hair or be taller or thinner than the others. Maybe their personalities are different. Now in many families, everyone learns how to get along. We might not be best friends, but we learn how to behave around each other (especially when Mom is looking!).
In my area, there are different cultures and financial situations and different values. Yet there are very few fist fights and throwing of rocks. Now we don’t sit around some fire pit singing kumbaya but we don’t create division either. You see we have to find a way to get along or else nobody would leave their homes.
Now let’s look at this from God’s perspective.
People are different. God created us that way. People have free will, choice, in what they think, believe, and do. God is love. God says that his people will be known by their love.
You can see where this is going.
So do we just ignore our differences, lump everyone’s values and beliefs into one big pot and then follow whatever comes out? Nope. That’s been tried many times and it only ends with some watered down value system that can’t tell the difference between right and wrong.
And as Christians we are not supposed to compromise the truth of the Word or the value of Christ. No philosophy or belief of deity is equal to Jesus. However we dress up our modern day golden calf it is still just a useless idol. And pooling our values is nothing more than a vain attempt to replace God’s values with a system of organized sin.
So how on earth do we love those different than us? By not letting our fear of each other cause us to treat others better than or worse than God wants us to. Loving others is loving them where they are, not changing them into more lovable versions of us.
Didn’t God say we are to love others as we love ourselves? How is giving up the truth that God has deposited in our heart loving ourselves. And if we give up our own beliefs to do this, then how quickly will we give up the beliefs of others when another group comes along? Can you really accept the values of Muslims and the values of a liberal culture at the same time? What happens when the homosexual beliefs conflict the Muslim beliefs? Yikes, now you’re in a pickle.
Differences do not equal division in the sense that we are to divide our neighbors into categories that are beneath us. No, we are called to love equally for God created us all. To be sure Christ said he would be divisive. He wasn’t talking about the way we treat others. He was talking about our faith separating us from those around us. And that is a topic for another time.
Keeping our faith pure allows us to love others even when they are quite different from us. It also helps us love ourselves so we do not weaken our faith by adopting the values of the very people we are called to love.
Be different not divisive.