To name a few: dress, speech, religious beliefs & rites, family upbringing, skin color, food, music, age, appearance, intelligence, political persuasion, economic status, race, and theological perspective.
Here’s a question for us to really ponder…
When God looks upon us, and considers the uniqueness in which he created each of us, do you think the above mentioned are atop his list of those he values most?
These really don’t make us much different, at least not at the core level of our being in which God would take great delight in.
Although we are diverse, we are not really all that different. We discover commonality at the center of our humanity.
And I’d argue that God takes greater delight (and we should be too!) in the things that unite us rather than the differences that divide us.
As a pastor, one of the ways I see this played-out, is in the arena of religious belief, rites, and theological perspective. Too many of us draw dogmatic lines in the sand that divide more than they unite.
This leads us more toward biting and devouring of one another than uniting us. It further closes us off to the experience and perspective of others, creating dissonance on the surface, with what otherwise may actually be harmonious at a deeper level.
Unity begins with the understanding of our common humanity with others. That is still quite important to our lives relationally.
The discovery of this leads us back to the unity beneath our differences. There we’re united in our diversity and awaken to the reality that we are not the only favored and loved ones of God. To suggest or think otherwise, is the sinful nature at it’s best in the form of pride. And pride will always polarize us from both God and one another.
In the context of discovering unity, freedom, and love among our diversity, consider this…
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.”
- Galatians 5:13-15
We live in freedom to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.
Not freedom to do or think whatever we want. Freedom to live in the tension of diversity as we serve one another in love.
It’s our duty as Christians to talk about the ways in which we differ theologically. And we are to do it in: love, honesty, openness, intelligence, humility, patience, and certainly out of our devotion for Christ.
In essential matters: we have unity
In non essentials: we have freedom
In all things: we have love
But isn’t one’s non essential another’s essential and one’s essential another’s non essential. Exactly! That’s when and why we must ‘use our freedom to serve one another in love‘!
It’s difficult and requires maturity to live in the reality of freedom in Christ in such a way. But it’s how I believe the spirit of Jesus invites us to live.
One Final Thought: Perhaps Freedom in Christ is more than just something we claim for ourselves. It may actually be something we offer one another that unites us even in our diversity!