May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:5-7
For a long time I was hung up on the idea that as Christians we should all be the same. We should all have the same convictions and live the same way. This idea really caused me a lot of anguish. It made me very judgmental and self-righteous. I also felt judged by those who did not have the same convictions as I held. I thought if we served the same God and were filled with the same spirit how could we be so different.
What I've realized is this is a flawed way of thinking. I have 5 children who are completely different. I have 4 sons that have very little in common. They have the same parents, raised in the same house, with the same opportunities, but instead of this creating sameness, it actually creates diversity. I for one am very glad that they are not all the same, because each one of them have their own individual strengths and WEAKNESSES. If they were all the same and they all had the same weakness I would go insane.
A couple of them are early risers, some sleep late. Some like bananas and one of them won't even take a sip of a smoothie if he can smell banana. One loves every sport, one only likes football, and one would rather play with dinosaurs. One of my sons is very quiet and you never know what's on his mind, if he talks you better listen, but his two brothers NEVER stop talking. One wants to be a professional athlete and another a veterinarian. You get the picture they are all different and that is good. The bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, fashioned INDIVIDUALLY. That means that we were crafted together, by the hand of God, and created completely unique. Looking at the world around us will give us a clue to the heart of God. Instead of creating us all the same God displays his glory and creative power in making us different.
This same thing applies in the Church. We do have the same Father and we are filled with the same Spirit, but we are all diverse and that is beautiful. It's beautiful because it brings glory to God when in our differences we can come together and stand on common ground on the ONLY thing that truly matters JESUS CHRIST. Unity in Christ doesn't mean that we will all agree on everything, but that we lay down our differences and preferences, and become ONE in Christ. The only common ground that we can claim as Christians is that "all have fallen short of the glory of God" and that through Christ we have remission of our sins, by his blood, and eternal life through His resurrection. HE is our common ground.
Romans 14 talks about the differences that we may have. Some may eat meat and some may not. Some may celebrate special days, some may not hold any days above another. Today in our churches we see that some prefer no instruments in worship, some of us prefer to jam out. Some prefer to homeschool and others do not. Some dress a certain way and some take no thought about clothes. There are a million things that could separate us, but God receives Glory when we can love one another and accept one another in Christ and bring praise to GOD. Jesus is our common ground.
So, when I am tempted to look at what is different about another sister in Christ, I need the Spirit to remind me, that the only thing that matters is the One, who brings us together in spite of our differences and that is Jesus.