It’s easy to see differences.
I have brown hair. You have blond.
He’s tall. She’s short.
She’s wealthy. He’s poor.
I’m quiet. You’re loud.
As children, those differences aren’t so apparent. Children instinctively play with each other, no matter their skin color, height or personal preferences. But it seems that as we grow, we are more acutely aware of the things that separate us and make each of us one-of-a-kind.
God did make each of us unique – and what a blessing that is and how interesting it makes our lives. (I’m fairly certain that two of me would NOT be a good thing!) The diversity God introduced in how we are creatively wired is a wonder.
We tend to focus on all of the things that are different about how we worship….about the name of our particular brand of faith….or even our favorite translation of scripture. So frequently I see posts on why one flavor of Christianity is better than the other, and social media can be particularly damaging, allowing us to anonymously jab and point and leave little barbs to exacerbate the differences and use them to feel superior.
When we’re feeling superior, differences are all we see. Then it is much more difficult to celebrate our similarities as Christians.
Last week, I had the chance to be at three different church services in less than 5 days.
- One was a beautiful wedding in a Catholic church, complete with a full musical quintet, flowers and a bagpipe player.
- The next was a worship service at my own church home, complete with a full band and movement from the Holy Spirit (yes, there were hands raised!).
- The final was a funeral in a vaulted cathedral, with beautiful chanting in Latin, incense and a full Mass.
It is so easy to identify the obvious differences of the three: tradition, denominations, rituals, purpose, style, music and on and on.
At each of these opportunities to corporately worship God, however, what I started to see were the similarities of God’s family of faith. And those similarities were beautiful.
- All profess Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.
- Each are a living legacy of Jesus’ life and sacrificial death.
- All shared a common hope for heaven as our eternal home.
I am so thankful that Jesus saw our similarities – all of us his children in need of salvation – instead of the differences of our brokenness in a sinful life. It was only appropriate then that God placed this verse from Ephesians in my path this week as a summary of what He had already laid on my heart:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV)
Remember the God that unites us, and not divides us as you see your brothers and sisters in Christ this week. While we will always be unique, we will always share one Lord, faith and hope as Christ followers.
Celebrating our similarity of one hope,
– Jen Clark