Two recent visits with friends are swirling in my mind. In both cases, our conversations were invigorating, inspiring, and filled with hope. I know for a fact that we do not agree on all things. For a variety of reasons, including faith, perspective, and experience, we see things quite differently. In one case, we share a Christian heritage. In the other, we come from the same childhood neighborhood. I find myself reflecting on our differences. I realize how the very things that would separate us, actually binds us together.
At times, even good friends are separated by differences. Paul and Barnabas struggled with theirs. As they considered a trip together, “Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn't have him; he wasn't about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia.” (Acts 15.37, 38) As a result, the gap between them overwhelmed their ability to work directly together.
In my case, there is a fundamental difference. Without any comment or bias towards Barnabas or Paul, I need the wisdom that comes with my friendships. I know I see God more clearly because of the perspective of my friend that holds a Hindu perspective firmly within his heart. I understand that I am able to feel God in ways otherwise not possible because of the connection my friend who looks for light and darkness. Their views enrich my own. The insights give me hope. Their understanding challenges me to expand beyond the boundaries I have.
Differences are not always easy. I find many challenge the core of my being. I am often uncomfortable. I do not like the doubts their views create. I wish I could stay within my comfort zone. I know this is lazy and not responsible. God invites me to see more than I do. God challenges me to embrace those I would reject. God even commissions me to be Divinity’s ambassador.
Our differences do not need to separate; they can strengthen. In everything, we are family.
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