Think about this for a minute. No two of us are exactly alike. We have different personalities, different genetic make-ups and different fingerprints, to name a few. So, knowing that God made us all different, why is it we so badly want everyone to think, act, or be like us?
It is much more likely God made us all different so that we would have to learn to accept and get along with each other, than it would be for us to conform to all being alike. How would we choose which personality, or genetic make-up, or fingerprint to adhere to? The verses below give us insight into this question.
1 Corinthians 12: 15-26
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being a part of the body.
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being a part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
But in fact God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is there are many parts, but one body.
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 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.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
None of Us Are More Important Than the Other
These verses make it very clear that none of us are more important than anyone else and that we should work together and have equal concern for each other. Why do we not see this today? Why do we see one group lifting themselves up above another group? Why do we see one group thinking they are right and everyone who does not agree with them is wrong? Somehow, we have gotten it in our head that we are more important than someone else; and that the way we think, and act is better than the way someone else thinks and acts. When we do this, we have put ourselves in the place of God. God made all of us and if we all work together and have equal concern for each other, as God directed, we will all succeed together. On the other hand, if we consider ourselves more important than others and are only concerned for people who are like us, against what God directed, we will all fail.
What Is the Most Excellent Way?
It is not by accident that God ends the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 with the words, “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” Knowing our human condition and that we would try to take God matters into our own hands, God spelled out for us guidelines to help us work together and have equal concern for each other. These final words in 1 Corinthians 12 lead us directly into 1 Corinthians 13 and the fact that love is the most excellent way.
What Does Love Look Like?
1 Corinthians 13: 1-8, 13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Loving Others Is Not Always Easy
We all know that love is hard, especially to show love to those who are different than we are. That’s probably why God made sure to give us these words.
We are all familiar with Luke 6: 31
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
But we tend to pass over the verses that immediately follow this verse; Luke 6: 32(a), 33(a), 34(a).
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?
In other words, as the words in these verses tie together with the words in the entirety of this blog, we are to show love to those who are different than we are. The definition of what this love should look like is found in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.
Why Don’t We Do What God Wants?
It’s almost like we see the exact opposite of this today. Instead of patience, we find irritation. Instead of kindness, we find rudeness. Instead of being happy for other people, we find ourselves wishing bad for people who think differently than we do. Instead of lifting someone else up, we boastfully lift ourselves up. Instead of the humility of trying to understand someone else, we pridefully want someone to understand us. Instead of finding ways to come together with others, we find ways to make them look foolish. Instead of trying to put ourselves in someone else’s place, we only see what we want to see. Instead of keeping the peace, we incite anger. Instead of forgiving, we hold grudges. Instead of understanding the truth that there are two sides to every story and multiple ways to get to the same end, we delight in thinking our way is the only right way. Instead of protecting, we injure. Instead of promoting trust, we promote skepticism. Instead of building hope, we promote division. And instead of persevering together, we only want success for people like ourselves.
Let’s Strive for the More Excellent Way
In our world of vast differences, which God made, let’s quit expecting people to conform to be like us. Instead, let’s accept these differences God has made and start loving each other in spite of these differences. No one of us is more important than anyone else and we must remember that we all need each other. If one of us suffers, we all suffer. In the end, if love each other, we will all succeed together, but if we don’t love each other, we will all fail together.
Peace and Love
Again, my intent is not to destroy anyone’s belief system, but perhaps to strengthen it. Over time, we have turned the bible into God. When you can open your mind and look at the entirety of what the bible says, it becomes very clear that some of it would not be what God would have said at all. The reason this is so important is because some people use the bible for superiority, exclusion, judgement and condemnation, which is a direct contradiction to what God would want. When we finish this journey, my hope is that it will allow for less division, conflict, and hate, and allow for more equality, acceptance, peace and love.