Some time ago I was watching a TV series in which a young white woman attempted to seduce a handsome young black man using the phrase “Vive la Difference”. She wanted to “live in the moment” by celebrating those differences. In our world today there seems to be a growing acceptance of this philosophy. Counter-productively there is also less acceptance of those differences that might lend permanency to our relationships. Critical appraisals fracture friendships and marriages. How is it possible to live in a world so divided?
Recently I heard a young man parroting what he had likely heard someone else say negatively about the values of an older man. It caused me to wonder where we place our emphasis. Do we appreciate the strengths in our individual family and friends, or are we anxious to shape them into something else? Would we like them to be what someone else appears to be? What does the word of God tell us? Solomon gives us some suggestions. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). “Wounds of a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:6). How is this type of friendship possible?
Jesus Himself was known as the friend of tax collectors and sinners….both were groups of people who were totally unacceptable to the religious establishment (Pharisees) because they didn’t conform to their image of how people should live. Certainly they did not exemplify those values Jesus preached. So – what did He find so compelling that He would eat with them? Sharing meals demonstrated social acceptance, in that era.
Jesus’ philosophy of life was grounded on love. Love that always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7). What did His love protect? Those individual characteristics that are at the same time charming and disarming? His love covers a multitude of sins because underneath there is potential to be developed, by building a sense of hope. When the possibilities that God has given to us are recognized, even after failure, as was the case with the Samaritan woman (John 4), any person can be transformed by God! Persevering love and acceptance form the greatest catalyst for developing one’s potential.
High in the list of controversies popular today is the issue of racial discrimination. Surely we can see how God has made all peoples of the earth beautiful. Different? Yes! But isn’t that what lends harmony in music – the differences of each instrument! How boring it would be if the were all cellos or trumpets. It is the diversities that we celebrate as we examine our earth scientifically! It is unique ideas shared that bring progress to any movement.
In business, successful upper management recognizes the need for diversity within its leadership, as might a church within its leadership. The richness of diversity encourages growth. This is why Paul recommends the church takes advantage of the various gifts God has given to individuals (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). We need each other to create a network of encouragement and support.
Vive la Difference!
Do we have a friendly world view towards our fellowman?
Can we look beyond their fault to see their need? (Song by Dotty Rambo).
“Dear Lord. Help me to celebrate those differences within the Body of Christ that are so essential to a healthy body. Thank you for the beauty of all You have created! Let me rejoice in the vision that You have given to some very gifted people. May I be in tune with those who have learned to listen to Your still small voice saying “This is the way. Walk in it.” Bless me with the means to help those with hands held out, in service to these who are so needy. May my thoughts be pure and my heart loving as a peacemaker, representing Jesus Christ in this world. Guide my feet in paths of righteousness with a spirit of cooperation. Oh God give unity in the midst of the precious diversity You have created, I pray.”