In this divisive age, it can be so easy to get caught up in our differences. We like to argue just about anything – political beliefs, parenting styles, diets, appearances, and more. But when you stop to think about it, we are all different, and we are meant to be that way. God created us all with unique features, personalities, and traits.
If we call ourselves Christians, then we need to remember that we are to live in the world, but not be of the world. We must hold fast to our beliefs while being open to listening to others and treating them with respect, even if we don’t agree with them. It is not our job to judge others with opposing views.
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In an increasingly negative culture, we tend to seek out each other’s faults or differences. There is something beautiful when everyone has a seat at the table – one where they can be heard. Diversity can strengthen us.
Jesus calls us to love others with differences. It is his great commission for us to love God and love our neighbors as well as to love one another as He loves us. We may not agree with their views but we are called to love them. Just maybe the simple act of being kind and loving them can lead them to Jesus.
What the Bible Says About Differences
Yes, it can be difficult to handle diversity in thoughts but in fact, it can help strengthen our own personal beliefs. Instead of searching for all the wrong things about the person, search for God in them. Every person, even the one who cut you off in traffic, has been made in the image of God. Search for signs of grace.
“To see the image of God in others and to worship him through engagement with others is the culmination of loving Jesus, the purpose of community and the greatest meaning of earthly life (Transformed into Fire, Judith Hougen).”
We have one God and Father of all who defines the church’s oneness. Jesus came to divide the wall of hostility between the Gentiles and the Jews. He removed hatred forever. His ultimate goal was to bring them in union with God – to reconcile us with the Father. The One body is the church, the new humanity, a place of peace (Ephesians 2:16).
Bible Verses about Loving Others
The Bible is chalked full of verses about how to love others, despite our differences. Love is the Gospel and God is love. God calls us to love Him and love our neighbors. It is definitely not an easy job. But sometimes we don’t get second chances and how we treat people matters. Through reading the Bible, maybe you can learn to allow God to remove the scales from your eyes so that you might see others as He sees them.
After all, you are also hard to love sometimes. That’s a tough pill to swallow. But we are all sinners and it can be so hard to love others in spite of our selfish, prideful, and unforgiving hearts. Remind yourself to think about salvation and God calling you to himself. It wasn’t because it was easy but he loved you anyway. He sent His one and only Son so that we might be saved.
Jesus is our greatest example of loving difficult people. Being lovable isn’t always easy but He did it anyway. Therefore we must strive to love as God does.
1 Peter 1:22: Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
Hebrews 13:1: Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
John 13:34: 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.
**All Bible verses are from the English Standard Version Study Bible.
How To Love Others Despite Differences
You may be asking yourself how can you possibly love someone with differences? Someone who has a different ideological lens than you do. What about someone who identifies differently than you or rejects your identity altogether? Or someone who worships differently than you do?
Loving Others – As Jesus Loved
Jesus is our ultimate example of love. He loved us despite our differences. He accepted us as we are – no matter the mistakes we have made. Jesus died on the cross so that we might be reconciled to the Father. He wants us to love just as Jesus loved (John 13:34). Jesus glorified God by loving others. Our call is to love as Jesus loved, which means to love others the same exact way as he did. His love for us is a function of his oneness with the Father.
Loving Others – Live in Love
Sometimes we, as humans, attach strings to love. We only love when it is convenient for us or to certain people based on classifications like religious background, status, or political views. Maybe we feel we can only love people who share the same views as us. But this is not what God calls us to do. The fact is that the God who is in you is the same God that created each person in His image. If we intend to live the way God designed us to, we must live in love. Love, Christ-like love, shows us that there is no room for persecution or hate. To love less than this is to not really love.
Loving Others – Live In Unity
We are all united in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He made clear that there were no differences between the Jews and the Gentiles who got to receive this gift. In Ephesians 4:3, God calls us to “diligently keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us .” As believers, we have a responsibility to keep unity in the body of Christ.
Love has the power to bind us in unity. God is love. His love is stronger than our differences. If we are not living in unity or love, we are not living the life God called us to live. Let’s make every effort to live in unity. We are to work endlessly to live in unity and oneness. This unity only happens with God. And it is the peace of Christ that gives us the ability to love others.
Prayer for Loving Others With Differences
When you don’t know how to love others with differences, pray to God. Ask Him to remove the log from your own eye so that you might be able to love those individuals with grace and truth.
“Lord, thank you for your great love for us. That while I was still a stranger you called me into your family. You loved me despite my differences. I am filled with gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – the greatest act of love. Help me to see others as you see them. Help lead my heart in grace and truth. Teach me your gentleness and patience. Help me to be a disciple – sharing your goodness and kindness to all those I come into contact with, even those with differences. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
God’s love will conquer all. Let’s be a people that live with an outpouring of His kind of love.