Being different is absolutely okay. In fact, it should be celebrated. We often look at our differences as indicators of failure. We measure ourselves up to others who look or act differently, and based on that measurement, determine if we’re on the right path. Our success than is tied to our comparison.
It’s hard for anyone to walk around today and not automatically see how people point out our differences. This could range from the food we eat, the way dress, our characteristics, and even the way we worship God. People seem to enjoy criticizing others as if their way of doing things is the only way. Some people go to Church on Sundays, some on Saturdays, and some don’t. Some like Gospel music while others like traditional hymns and some don’t like either. Some believe expository preaching is better than topical preaching. Some believe it should be a blend of both. Some believe you should go to a bible study group in the middle of the week and join a small group.
These are just some examples of how the world infiltrates the way we think and ultimately bleeds into the world of the believers. We forget that the most important and influential thing is to be united in Christ.
As Ravi Zacharias often preaches, unity surpasses uniformity. As human beings we often look for those that think, and act like us. It not only strengthens our beliefs and validates our biases; it makes us feel safe and comfortable. But were we called to comfortable?
Following Christ will require us to be placed in uncomfortable situations both physically and emotionally. It will require us to look past the initial differences and look at what matters the most. Being united is the example of loving God and loving our neighbor. The church cannot accomplish things apart from God. God is our source of truth and strength. The church is present all around us. If you’re called to go to church on Sundays, that’s great. If you don’t go, that’s okay too. God doesn’t save us for going to church on Sundays and doing all the so-called right things. We are called to make disciples, preach the gospel, baptize in His name, and love others wherever we are.
It’s not to say that I don’t like the church (building & people). It’s just an example I see often. Many believe or operate in a way that makes people believe that God can only be found in a building on Sundays. His church is scattered throughout. His church passes man made boundaries. This will make you look different.
The moment you do something that is contrary to what the popularity believes you should do; you may be criticized. You will look different. You may cause others to back off and separate themselves from you. If that’s the case, let me remind you that even though Jesus taught in the temples, he went among the people. Uniformity is not what Jesus died for. There is beauty in being different Saints. Let’s celebrate it while advancing the Kingdom of God.
Let me leave you with a little quote from a Reading I came across recently.
“Uniformity is very different from unity. It’s based on clone-like similarities. That’s what makes uniformity so comfortable. It’s naturally cohesive. When everyone walks, talks, and looks alike, it’s not too hard to get along There aren’t so many issues to work through. It’s rather easy to be patient, kind, and forbearing with a close of myself. I understand where you’re coming from. I know what you mean. I feel your pain.
But uniformity is not what Jesus died for. He didn’t come to break down the dividing walls that separated Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, women and men so that we could coalesce around a boring, blended, homogenous middle. Quite the contrary. He came to save us in our differences, not from them. God delights in our diversity. Many of our greatest differences are an essential part of his sovereign plan. He actually made us that way – on purpose.” Larry Osborne – Accidental Pharisees
One In Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[a] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[b] the Spirit.”Ephesians 2:11-22 English Standard Version (ESV)