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Replay: Imagine all the people… loving one another in spite of their differences

Posted by on Sep 17, 2011 in community, fellowship, love, scripture | 3 comments

Replay: Imagine all the people… loving one another in spite of their differences

Four and a half years ago, I wrote a post called “Imagine all the people.” No, the post had nothing to do with John Lennon’s famous song. Instead, the post was in response to studying Paul’s letter of Ephesians with my family. The question we pondered that evening – that resulted in this blog post – is this: how do we love people who are different from us. We found something in Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus that helped us. Perhaps it will help you too.

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Imagine all the people

My family is studying Ephesians. Now, I know that some of you who know me well are laughing, because I LOVE to study Ephesians – it seems that I am ALWAYS studying Ephesians. Anyway, this is actually for a class assignment for which I have recruited my family to help.

We are supposed to read through Ephesians (and 1 Peter later) and answer the following question: “What do these texts say about faith as a way of life?”

As we were reading through chapter 2 of Ephesians, we noticed the emphasis on how God had created one new people from the Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:14-16). This new people was to live as a family (household) and citizens of a new kingdom (Eph 2:19). Again, in chapter 3, Paul says that when Jews and Gentiles lives as one people (the church) they demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:10). Paul also reminds us again that we are one family named for God, such that God is the patriarch of the family (Eph 3:14-15). He then calls us to strength, knowledge, and love (Eph 3:16-19).

We discussed how difficult it is for us to live with and love people who are different from us. Certainly the Jews and Gentiles found this kind of life difficult. Yet, God expects us to live as a family and to love one another – and not just any family, but His family – and not just with people who are like us, but with all believers, even if they are very different from us. How do we do that?

So, we did a quick exercise that really helped me, and hopefully it helped them. Maybe it will help you as well. Here is the exercise: Think of someone who is completely different from you. Think about their race, ethnicity, education level, economic level, hygiene, clothing, housing, language, culture, etc. Picture that person in your mind, and ask yourself, “How can I possibly love that person and live together as family with that person.” Then, read the end of Ephesians 3 below:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Certainly this passage applies to more than our living together in love with those who are different from us. But, it does apply to this as well. Because of God’s power at work in us, He is able to love someone through us that we would never love on our own.


3 Comments

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  1. 9-17-2011

    Thankfully Alan God created some people who naturally or by inspiration think out side the box. My favorite thing to do is love on people that look like my cultural opposites. I by nature seek out oddities because I know underneath the expression of style or pain etc. is a human being.

    I am first and foremost a connector. Once you begin to get to know a person even a little bit you can begin to hear what it is that they need.

    When it is a divine appointment the responses will just flow naturally. Sometimes needed resources are within finger tip reach. Other times they are things over stocked in our lives screaming share me, share me!

    In more extreme cases there might be nothing but an inner witness to bond with and go the extra mile for a recent stranger.

  2. 9-18-2011

    ToscaSac,

    Do you think that, for all of us, there is somebody or some group of people that is difficult to love, and we are only able to love them by the power of God?

    -Alan

  3. 9-23-2011

    That little exercise was pretty easy for me, I immediately thought of my son-in-law! (I’m a missionary in Guatemala, and share a house with my daughter and family.) It has taken large doses of God’s grace – continually – for us to live and grow in love not only with him but the culture here in general.
    I am constantly grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to be outside of what used to be my cultural comfort zone. When we are surrounded by people who are so different from us (or seemingly so, as we find later on that we actually share more than we think) it forces us to find out who we really are, and how we really love.
    I would wish for anyone in the U.S. to have a chance to live abroad and have the same experience, but that is no longer necessary as the U.S. has become so culturally diverse; I only hope that people would take advantage of the opportunity to bring a new dimension to their lives.