(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
My family and I were at a military ceremony, and a small lunch was provided afterward. My wife was eating with some of our friends while I was walking around talking to different people there. It was such a diverse group, and I was really enjoying watching some of the officers talking with some of the enlisted; DA (Department of the Army) Civilians were laughing with Soldiers; and a retiree and one of my teenagers were enjoying some meaningful conversation.
I watched them for a long time. my son would talk for a minute while the elderly gentleman listened. I could tell by their body language. Then the elder would respond while the junior listened. This 14 year old son of a white Lieutenant Colonel and, and an 80 year old African American enlisted retiree talked on and on.
It was the highlight of my whole day.
My teen treated the dear man with full respect. But there was clearly affection between them, too.
I never had an opportunity to see anything like that when I was a teenager. Racial divides were strong when I was growing up in South Carolina. From what I hear when I go home, it’s even worse in some ways and places.
Now the racial hatreds include Hispanics and Asians, many of whom simply moved to the U.S. because of how we describe ourselves as a nation:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I wish we were able to deliver our promises to all of our citizens, regardless of race, gender, age etc. and to (legal) immigrants as well as we eloquently speak that invitation.
Thankfully, the Lord Jesus is much more than an eloquent speaker or politician up for reelection. He unites people into one Family. And He even does so in amazing ways to show us that it is His supernatural work. Listen to the Apostle Paul’s words to a church in the city of Corinth that was struggling for unity.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12: 21-25)
God makes us different – even (in the opinion of some) seemingly weaker, less honorable, or unpresentable – so we will need each other. Differences in age, color, rank etc. are opportunities to learn from each other and grow.
My teen needs the wisdom of a wise, kind, hard working, humble elderly man. He needs to see and hear what faith and obedience to Jesus looks and sounds like after 50 years of walking the walk.
That same elder may need to see the respect and affection that a young teen can give him after only a short time of the Lord working in that teen’s life.
For what is the common denominator that unites them? Only Jesus Christ reigning in and over them.
What “different” believers has the Lord placed in your life? We may be more comfortable around those who are most like us, but we will experience His amazing work and grow in faith when we walk with those who are very different from us.
What are you waiting for?