“You are a snowflake. No one is like you. You are a unique individual.”
Let me just call “bologna” on all that right now. This way of thinking is worldly, not biblical, and often leads to pride and loneliness. I mean, who can possibly relate to me if there is no one like me? I’m not suggesting that we aren’t “special.” I tell my kids they are “special,” but not because they are unique, but because they, like everyone else, is made in the image of God. We actually are all the same in more ways than one, and our commonality is the key to Paul’s message.
One of Paul’s favorite phrases is “in Christ.” It means that we are united with Jesus, and our union with Him obtains for us a lot of royal privileges. We are at peace with the Father (vs. 16). We have been invited into the presence of God. We can draw near to Him whenever and wherever we want. (vs 18). In Jesus we are now members of His family (vs. 19) and rightful heirs to an everlasting inheritance (Eph. 1:5,11).
What I want to focus on is how this union with Jesus should result in unity among believers. Remember high school? Think about all the different cliques, and how, depending on which group you belonged to, you were considered cool or not so cool. I’ll admit that I did not belong to the cool group, though I always pined to be “one of them.” People who were different were made fun off, ignored, or even bullied. Sadly some of this behavior is also found within the church. You’ve got the homeschool group vs. the non homeschooling group, nursing vs. bottle feeding, big church vs. small church, large families vs. small families, homemade bread vs. store bought… we are quick to pick sides and pick a fight.
The truth is that where it counts, we are actually all the same. Before we were saved we were no different than the guy on death row. We all had hearts overflowing with sin and deserving of death, and yet we were all lovingly rescued by the Prince of Peace. We now have the same Father, the same acceptance, the same Holy Spirit and the same eternal inheritance. God does not love one of His children more than another and no matter how annoying we can sometimes be He does not play favorites. In Gal. 3:28 Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Our common salvation should lead us to stop some things and start others.
Because we are one in Christ we must:
1. STOP showing favoritism (James 2:1-13)
Since God does not play favorites, neither should we. Sure there will be some people we click with more than others, but we should truly love one another, extending the same kindness, courtesy and generosity as we would to our dearest friend. We must do this for even our differences are overshadowed by our spiritual unity in Jesus.
2. STOP being judgmental
If we were to take the time to get to know people who we think are not like us we would begin to realize that we actually have a lot in common. We all struggle with common sins, fears, and temptations (1 Cor. 10:13). More importantly, we share a common Lord and love for Him. This should move us to stop harsh, unrighteous judgement especially in trivial matters.
3. STOP thinking you are better (Phil 2:3, 4)
We are called to lay our lives down for others. To think of them as better than ourselves. This is impossible if we don’t see how similar we all are. Our sameness kills pride and produces humility. No one is good at everything. In the areas where we excel another might struggle and where we struggle some one else excels. We need to be cheering each other on to godliness. Wherever you excel, serve others. Where others excel, let them serve you.
But we can’t just stop some things without also starting other things. Let me offer three brief words.
1. Change your thinking
Our theology is the starting point. Keep in mind 1) everyone is created in the image of God and therefore has value, 2) everyone is a sinner in need of a Savior, and 3) in the Kingdom we are all adopted into one family.
2. Reach out to those who are different
Invite people into your life who are not a part of your “group.” This is what God has done for us in Christ, and He calls us to do the same.
3. Be a good friend
Being a part of a family doesn’t always mean happy, smiley faces and sugar sweet words. We must also hold each other accountable. We need to speak truth into each others lives in order to help build each other up in godliness (Prov. 27:6). Of course for this to work we need to be willing to receive correction ourselves. This is what friendship looks like. We are fighting the same enemy and serving the same King together.
Our commonality should lead to unity. Our diversity should serve the body and our Savior is what makes us special. In all of this we find comfort because in the end we are all the same.
Looking to Jesus,