Have you ever been excited about a teaser on television about a new program series that is about to begin? And after watching the first episode, did you ever think in disappointment, "Well, THAT wasn't all that great." AND did you ever wonder, three or four years later, "How in the world is that program still on tv? It wasn't all that great to begin with!"
Psst ... here's an obvious truth: people are all different! We have different appearances, we think differently, and we all like different things.
The population of the United States was 313.9 million in 2012. Surely there are some who disliked the new television series just like you, but obviously there were many more who enjoyed the program so much, it continues to air.
Carey Kinsolving asked some kids why God made people so different. Some of the answers were:
- So He wouldn't be bored.
- He likes to see different faces.
- The world would be so plain if everyone was the same.
- Mom might take home the wrong kid.
- If everyone were the same, everyone would have the same habits, and it'd be miserable.
- To show His ability to be creative.
With so many different people in the United States, and even in our own communities and churches, it is very likely we will view the same event and glean our own DIFFERING interpretations and opinions of it.
In recent years, I have had opportunities to attend a variety of events, hosted by a variety of ministries. For each event, I have taken the time to learn something about the speaker and developed a kind of trust that the speaker was indeed hearing from the Lord and imparting truths as God would have him or her share. I also believe the speakers prayed fervently prior to each speaking engagement, that the Lord use him or her to be His representative during the event. I, too, have prayed prior to events I have attended, asking that God open eyes and ears of those in attendance (including mine!) and that there would be a new and fresh revelation of His Word as a result.
After all of the worship is done, and the message shared, and the food consumed, there is always that one person. You know the one. The one who says, "You know, I got absolutely nothing from that event." Or maybe the one who tells you, "I think the speaker should not have used such and such as an example, but this other example instead. It would have been so much better.
When I encounter such a person, I have to bite my tongue or the grace-less sentence of, "Well if you're so much better, why aren't YOU doing it."
Instead I simply respond, "I have talked to several people who were convicted by the message. If this message didn't convict you, I'm sure there will be another one down the road that will."
This is a response that I believe is truly effective ... because I was once that one person until the day everything changed.
Once upon a time, I was talking to my community group about a prophetic word given during church, and how it seemed forced and how I didn't feel any response inside myself to it and how I questioned the validity of it truly being from the Lord. Another member of my community group stared at me at length and then exclaimed, "I was on my knees in tears when that prophetic word was given. Just because you don't get anything out of it, doesn't mean it's null and void for all."
Wow. That response put me in my place. After praying at length about it, I realized that God uses an event or a service to speak to either an entire congregation or just a part of it or even just one person.
Which brings me to my original point.
We are all different.
If we were all the same, it might be easier for us to obey the greatest commandment. But being different makes it challenging, doesn't it?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." (Heb. 13:7) Later in the chapter, we read, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." (v.17)
Carey Kinsolving reminds us of why we are different in this way:
God loves variety.
In fact, his glory is so great, he requires different expressions of praise. What kind of sound would an orchestra make if every member played a trumpet? To produce a beautiful, harmonious sound, individual orchestra members must unite their diverse talents and instruments under the direction of a skilled conductor.
Even though we are different, we can all be united if we follow the conductor. The love of God unites all Christians because it transcends national, cultural, economic and racial differences.