Making Friends With Differences
We live in a heartbroken world. A world where systems of power pit us against one another. A world where we often live exclusively in our own “individual” culture. As we watch the divide of ideologies grow wider than ever, we are tempted to stay behind our side of the line. It is more important than ever to reach across that divide. To see people as just that: people.
In Acts 10:34-35, Peter the Apostle realizes: “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” During the early church’s formation, God revealed to the Jewish believers that His heart for Gentiles was as big as it was for them. All Gentiles had the same access to God when they believed in Jesus Christ. As the present-day church, we must remember this same truth. God makes Himself available to everyone - no matter their race, ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, political beliefs, economic status, etc. In the same way, I hope we can make ourselves available to everyone.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
- Colossians 3:12-14
These verses provide a guideline for us to make a meaningful, love-bound community. How do we treat one another? What attitudes do we keep? Do we make it about ourselves, or the other person? Do we forgive others’ mistakes? Do we learn from our own mistakes? Most of all, do we love the way that God loves?
I may feel afraid or uncomfortable when I meet new people, but the more I get to know and break bread with them, the less scary it feels. Not everybody grew up like me. Not everybody lived in the same neighborhood or family. Not everybody likes what I like or believes what I believe. Does that mean we can’t be friends? Does that mean my own existence and values are under fire? I don’t think that’s the case.
I may not understand everything, but I will keep trying and educating myself. I will listen with humility and interest in the things you love. I will talk to you and share stories with you and eat with you. I will be there for you, and, I hope, you will be there for me.
Let compassion drive you - and all of us - to break out of our social circle and to make intentional relationships. Friendships become so much more meaningful when we have an authentic connection with someone, where they know we care about them and they care about us. Let us hold each other in respect, even as we dialogue. Let us put each other first. Let us pray for each other. We don’t have to become best friends with everyone. But may we reach beyond our own comfort zones to find our friends.