Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Created Equal: Equally weird.

Never fails. For someone who writes, whether it be a book, a blog, or a personal journal....a trip home never fails to offer boo-coodles of new material! (To my home folks - don't worry, no deep dark secrets revealed here!) I guess this isn't really "new material" to me. It was just made fresh for me this weekend and well, I often need those reminders. I went home to Tennessee for my younger cousin's wedding. I have to say that it was extra special to me because I taught her College and Careers Sunday School class for the last 4-5 years before we moved to California. It's always been very special when one of these young men or women gets married because I've had the privilege of being in the position to work with some of them when some of their young love things turned more complicated than they'd anticipated. It was also special just watching them literally become men and women before my eyes...turning from amateurs in the dating field to making lifelong commitments before the Lord. It was still funny to me, though, because when they moved up from youth to our class and a lesson would include me saying something like, "someday when you are married......", every one of them at some point would say, "I ain't gettin' married!" or "I'm waiting until I'm 30!", etc etc. So, Ashley's wedding was not only special because she's family, she's also my sister in Christ.

That's precisely what struck me this weekend.....When we add Christ to a relationship of any kind, it takes on a deeper dimension. We look at people differently and can relate to people we wouldn't ordinarily or on a level that normally wouldn't be broached. Whatever the difference may be.... age, race, career, economic status, marital status, etc., we have lots more to discuss than the weather or that one thing we may have in common.

I've come to the conclusion that we were all created equal. Equally weird. But in our own special ways! What I'm trying to say is that I've learned the blessing of forging friendships with people who are not like me. For example, I have a friend born and raised here in California that is really into all natural, homeopathic living, eating, etc. It's very much a part of who she is and, on the surface, it would seem we have little in common. She is literally the fastest friend I believe I've ever made since the first time I met her was when I hopped in her car to drive to Long Beach for a Beth Moore conference. Little did I know she was a new found sister in Christ. We actually appreciate our differences so much that we can poke fun at them.

The same is true for a Tennessee friend whose family's favorite past time is car races. I don't know if past-time is an adequate word. They don't just go to races, they own and race the cars. It's something they love that's a part of who they are and I know absolutely nothing about it. But, the spiritual common ground opens up many conversations that otherwise would never take place. We can make fun of each other as well as set each other straight.

Really, we all benefit from those types of relationships. When our relationships are solely based on having kids the same age, similar career paths, the same hobbies or passions, the same hang-ups or flaws, or even the same family, they tend to remain at superficial levels. I'm not saying that we can't love someone or have real relationships with people who are not believers, but those relationships will never be all they could be. When you add Christ to the mix, you can discuss anything from the weather to marriage; from potty training to societal woes; fashion trends to eternal life...... and be a help to each other, not just a sounding board. These relationships were meant to be a blessing and a help to us this side of heaven and they can only be realized among fellow believers.

We will find these relational opportunities exist in our family, our workplace, and most importantly in the setting of our home churches. It's not to say that we can expect to handle everything perfectly, but through serving one another or alongside each other with the love He commands us to have for one another, we inevitably realize a common bond that far exceeds any high school click, college sorority, sports team, work colleagues, or any other group in which we have identified ourselves. We can have different interests, passions, careers, family status, etc., and still have a sense of commonality on many levels simply because we have the same Spirit at work in us, even if we are on different levels of our spiritual walk. We can even have various struggles along that walk....addictions, insecurities, family problems, financial troubles, etc. Yet, we still have common ground and hope for one another because Christ is THE Healer....of all things, for all people. When we intentionally put Christ at the center of our relationships, we find a new capacity for compassion, forgiveness, boldness, and encouragement. That's when we surprisingly find ourselves growing into wiser, more loving, joyous, content people. This is not by happenstance. It is by design.

Ephesians 2:18-22
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

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