1 Corinthians 12:14 NLT
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.
None of us are alike. We look different, act different and even smell different. We have different talents, different gifts from God and very different things that drive us. God loves variety, and He created us so different.
A few years ago I sat across the table from some people who were talking about our church, The Church Fellowship, that just begun. Our music is different. The way the church is run is different from most churches. The way that people join the church is different from lots of churches. Before the end of the conversation and through the next few months the continued conversation was evident that our differences made those people not want to associate with our church.
I just heard a story about a man who was sitting outside of a business and was in need. He was evidently in need by the way he looked, but this precious lady looked past the way he was dressed or how dirty he was and began to have a conversation. She was well dressed with every hair in the right place. They were opposites to say the least. By the end of the conversation, God spoke to both of them in a sweet way.
These type of cases have come up many times in our working with people through the ministries of The Community Fellowship. I've come to the place where I see Christians allowing differences to divide them. But that is not what God wants for us. He wants our differences to unite us. When we see people in need, reach out. When we talk to people who think or believe different, don't close off the conversation but talk and learn from this person. Don't talk about how much better you are because you are different.
Last night I was looking through the website and blog of a church in area I use to live in. The church was planted very different from ours. They have traditional hymns, and the way the church operates is what I have been used to in the past. But what I read was refreshing. It wasn't about this church or that church being better. It is about all of our churches being who God made us to be to reach more people for Jesus. Yes, our contemporary church can and must work together with traditional churches to make a difference in the lives of the people around us.
Yesterday a friend called. He is a strange dude (and I told him that, again). But this guy is a church planter like me who has been working for four years or so to see his church grow, and this week some awesome growth happened. They had twice as many people as their largest crowd ever. People accepted Jesus at their worship service. Yet last week this church was kicked out of their local church association because they do different things, they look different and don't fit that association's so called mold for churches.
That church and our church reach people that some churches can't reach. Today a lady told me how awesome it was that she feels welcome at our church as others churches didn't make her feel welcome (and she is different from the middle class mind-set in lots of ways, take my word for it). Different isn't wrong, but being different may allow you to reach people you never thought of reaching for Jesus. Hold up. Maybe you don't see your church as different, but because of the way you are, the way you worship and all, you CAN reach people that our church may never be able to reach.
God can use our differences to see that His kingdom grows. God will use our differences to help each of us grow stronger and better at what we do. Different isn't wrong, and it is time that Christians and churches stop throwing rocks and words at each other for being different.
We might be different in the way we worship or in the place we meet. We might be different in the way people dress when they come to church or with how loud the place of worship is when we sing. Different isn't wrong. There are enough lost people or hurting people who need hope in Jesus. Let's allow our differences to let us join together to do great things. All of this is for God who made us different and leads us in different directions.
What is the same? We all agree that Jesus is the only way. We all believe that hurting people need hope and help. We all believe that serving others is important to our faith journey. Being different isn't wrong. It may be the very thing that makes us stronger!
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another asmore important than yourselves;
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly...