Most of us hang around people who look like us, think like us, and share the same beliefs as we do. Being charged with furthering Jesus’s mission to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, I find it difficult to believe Heaven looks like our homogeneous gatherings. No, I think Heaven is the most diverse and eclectic bunch of people we can imagine. If that’s true, why don’t we strive to surround ourselves with similar gatherings now?
This life is our only chance to prepare for our eternal one. We may as well practice now. Paul encourages us in Romans 15:7 to accept others just as Christ accepted us. Jesus takes us as we are. We should also accept others as they are without demanding they become like us. God loves them just as they are, and so should we.
Surrounding ourselves with those different from us means we must engage with some we find to be hard to love. Bob Goff made the comment he prefers to see difficult people as being “delightfully different”. That’s a great philosophy. What if we let the differences of others fascinate rather than frustrate us? Our aversion to the so-called difficult people is because they are so unlike us. Remember, God accepts and loves them as they are. Since Jesus lives in us and through us, this means we must love and accept them with all their “delightful differences”!
Why isn’t our sphere of influence more diverse and eclectic? Do we fear such people might expose the flaws in our way of thinking? Are we more concerned with comfort or making connections? It’s easy to believe other Christians will share the same political and social opinions we hold, but the truth is far different. Christ-followers come from all walks of life and hold various opinions about a multitude of issues. Each of us can back up our beliefs with some hand-picked verses of Scripture and have a deep conviction we are correct. What if, instead of trying to convince the other party to see the error of their ways, we admitted their views differ from our own, assume they have the best intentions, and love them as Christ does? Isn’t that what being a disciple of Jesus is all about?
Bob Goff also said, “When did having the same beliefs and opinions become a prerequisite to accepting and loving others?” If we don’t hang out with those who don’t know Jesus, who do we suppose will tell them? And if we don’t love our Christian brothers and sisters despite them having opposing political and social views, how can we ever expect to look like Jesus? Having a diverse and eclectic group of friends now will not only prepare us for what’s coming, but it will also show our commitment to the multifaceted and endlessly creative Creator whom we worship. Don’t fear or avoid the differences of others. Embrace and love them just as Christ embraces and loves you.