“6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us ...”
Romans 12:6a CEB
Over the years I have watched them come to terms with an ever-present reality—different. One loves school, history, museums and music. One loves friends, laughter, learning new things and working with kids. They both like family, animals, movies, adventure and Netflix. There are similarities AND there are differences. The two people I am talking about are definitely different. They are also siblings and those differences can drive them crazy. At its best, the differences make their relationship great. As my daughters become young women, I see them growing into and appreciating those differences. These two young women are fearfully and wonderfully made with gifts and talents consistent with God’s grace that has been given to them.
Different can be wonderful and different can be exhausting. We are all different. We are all unique. This is God’s intent for all of us. If we were the same and all acted, thought, spoke, believed the same, the world would be boring—almost unbearable. If everyone was like me there would be a lot of big visions and people would be excited about them, but not a lot of them would be accomplished. In the life of the church I strive to surround myself with staff and leaders who are different than me. I see how things can be and should be, but I need people who see the process by which we can get there. The bottom line is we need each other because we are different.
One of the most memorable staff experiences of my life happened at a staff retreat years ago. We had taken a personality type indicator test prior to the retreat. The leader had split us up into teams based on our scoring. Everyone on your team scored the same as you. We were then asked to plan a dream trip. Money was no option and we could go wherever we wanted to go. My group was full of dreamers and big picture people. We planned an amazing 14-day trip through Europe and the Mediterranean. It was truly awesome and packed with incredible experiences. When the plan was all put together we were to share with the other group. The other group was filled with very process and detail-oriented people. We shared our trip and sat back and smiled—because we knew it was amazing. The other group just sat there, wheels spinning, and did not respond at all. When the leader asked what they thought, their response was “Is any of that possible?” You see, we hadn’t checked to see if any airlines flew to any of the cities we had chosen or if the cruise lines sailed to any of the ports we scheduled. We had all kinds of experiences planned, but little to no detail of how they would be accomplished. We needed to have the other group involved in the planning and, quite honestly, they needed us involved in theirs. Their plan was boring. We are different AND we need each other.
It is no different in the church. We all have different gifts and talents given to us according to God’s grace. God made us different for a reason … we are better together. We need each other. Some people are gifted to be in front of people, some are gifted to work behind the scenes, others are gifted teachers, and the list goes on. The Apostle Paul tells the church in Rome that this is what makes the church, the body of Christ, complete. Without any one part the church is incomplete and does not function the way Christ intends. This is why we should celebrate our differences—they are God’s plan for us. God created us different. When we celebrate those differences we complement each other, and we are the church.
This Sunday we continue the message series Building A Better Marriage. We will discuss what it means to build a better marriage by celebrating differences. If you’re single, I promise you that you will be able to apply the principles we will discuss to your life. I hope you will join us. The best is yet to come at St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!