By Benjamin H. Liles
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. ~ Ephesians 4:3, New Living Translation
As members of Jesus' church on this planet, we are all very different with different ideas. Some of the time we rub one another the wrong way. It's not that we don't love each other because we do. But we need to remember that differences are good when it comes to serving His church. Take for example three types of animals that are a kind of family: a lion, a Bengal tiger, and a black bear. I take this example from Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional that helps bring scripture to life.
These three animals had been abused and neglected, but rather than being separated at an animal sanctuary in Georgia, those who run it have kept all three of them together. These animals play, eat, and get along with one another. What can we learn from this? In spite of the differences they find and enjoy comfort with each other. They don't act contrary to their natures. They don't do things outside of their natures either. If anything the three of them are "friends" with one another.
Likewise, the church is the same. We are all very much different. Last month, on the fifteenth, I wrote, "His word not only delights us, but shows us just how much more God loves us even in those moments where we’re weak, where we’re suffering, or even when we’re struggling. And this isn’t the same kind of struggling or suffering we go through as though we’ve sinned and repented. No. This is the way we go so that God may be glorified" (Contented Anguish).
We're not like animals. We can speak. We have creativity. We also have the ability to choose what we will do in life. Animals, on the other hand, are not like us. We don't descend from animals. We descend from other humans. God declared this to be so: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Genesis 1:26, New American Standard).
We have authority, due to what Jesus did on the cross, that we ought to exercise over those things, such as animals on the earth, over the earth, and that moves around on it. The whole point is that although we are all different and bring differences to the table in the body of our Messiah, we can do our part to help strengthen and build it up. And we do it by showing "a genuine and healthy, restored, and renewed relationship with the Father in Heaven. Have you realized how much your sin not only separates you from God? That your sin deserves to be punished? God's wrath is on anybody and everybody who does not realize their sin does more than separate them from Him" (A Genuine Repentance).
By allowing one another the right to be different and accept the differences we have we find solutions to life's challenges and daily living. It is something we do daily, just as Jesus did on our behalf. It is why He allowed Himself to be crucified, becoming our sacrifice so we are brought back into fellowship with the Father. Let's walk in this way, both in accepting each other's differences as well as being a living sacrifice.
Father, I thank you for the differences we all have. We can complement one another, helping to strengthen and help one another as long as it glorifies You. I love the fact You created us in Your image. That You caused each and every one of us to be different and have our own differences. My prayer is that we come together to honor, glorify, and represent You in this world. After all, we are to be a light as Jesus is the light to and for us. I thank and praise You for this. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.