1 Corinthians 12:4–7 ‘There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.’ (v6)
In an age of ‘political correctness’ (PC), we’re very aware of distinctions. PC encourages the censorship of policies, actions and language seen to offend a particular group in society, and as a means to address apparent social injustices. Yet, promoting tolerance can become a fresh form of intolerance.
Paul welcomes differences, but historically the Church has used differences between us to exclude, excommunicate, and even execute each other. Every process for discerning the nature of the difference is impaired, and influenced by our hidden and realised persuaders. Church expressions are built on theological nuances connecting groups by ethnicity, gender, social, and economic distinctives. Equally, such theological nuances can lead to the demeaning of other Christian expressions.
We’d do well to learn that in any conflict context, the difference is about our approach, not our position. We discover differences from an early age. Initially through curiosity, only later learn they might feed our fears. How we address real and imagined fears to realise the rich tapestry of gifts and opportunities we offer each other creates the context for diverse communities of participation.
Growth is seldom found in agreement, but crafted from exploration and challenge in conversation with others. Where the difference is extinguished we replace vibrant landscapes with grim icecaps of monochromatic similitude; difference seeds polychromatic communities that, despite differences, build multicultural neighbourhoods full of diversity and creativity. Dare we live the difference that holds the key to establishing God’s kingdom? In Christ, the difference is joyfully held together, one aspect of God’s glory.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER:
Deut. 10:12–22; Ps. 146:6–10; Acts 17:22–34; Gal. 3:23–29.
AN ACTION TO TAKE:
How do you approach the inner fears created by difference?
Consider God’s love is available to all and we are created to break down, not build, walls (Eph. 2:14–15)
A PRAYER TO MAKE:
‘Lord, may I seek to build community through honest and open conversation. Amen.’
Photo by Nathan K on Unsplash