Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stand Up and Embrace our Differences

Marcus Aurelius once said, “You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control.  These things are not asking to be judged by you.  Leave them alone.”

What a powerful insight this man had.  My favorite book, probably my top three favorites ever, is Marcus Aurelius - The Emperor’s Handbook by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks.  It is a new translation of the Meditations which is a combination of the notes of the emperor intended for personal and private use.  I find many wonderful thoughts in these pages and often use it as a platform for writing some of my own meditations.

Recent cultural news events have led thousands of people to take a stand for what they believe in. For the things that they feel are important and just and holy.  Which side is wrong?  We all have our opinion and not everyone can be right.  At times I wonder if ANY of us are right.  Perhaps we have all missed the mark.  Perhaps we could heed some of the emperor’s advice and leave things alone. 

Humanity lacks the ability to do that.  You know the type of people who actually look for confrontation, right?  They seem to look and listen for an opportunity to voice their opinions and typically will do so in total disregard for the people on the other side.  And when pushed, most of us will take a side because our hearts tell us to.  That is part of the human experience – we all approach ideas and topics from a different place.  The challenge is that when our lines cross, do we clash and fight or do we embrace one another, celebrate the mere fact that we have differences, and strive to learn from one another. 

The real question our culture needs to answer is this:  how do we stand up for what we believe in without standing on top of those we oppose?  Is it possible for humanity to agree to disagree and do so in peacefulness, showing love towards one another in all things?  Colossians 3:14 tells us that love is the perfect binding agent for unity.

You recall I Corinthians 12:2-3 which, interestingly enough is a popular wedding scripture.  It tells us that even if we speak many languages and we seem to be able to transcend humanity and share the language of the angels with one another, if we do not have love, than we might as well be clanging a noisy cymbal.  In fact, we could have so much faith that we can, indeed, move mountains but if we have not love, we are absolutely nothing.

Here’s the point I’m trying make.  Enter all things that you do and say with an attitude of love for ALL people, regardless of their viewpoint.  Just because they don’t sound like you does not mean that they are asking to be judged by you.  By speaking in love and sharing with one another our convictions, as long as we continue to show and have love in our hearts, we will all find the truth.

We are different and we all have our strong opinions.  Some of us can be swayed from one side of the issue to another.  Some will never be swayed.  And that is what we need to accept and embrace about humanity.  We are not going to agree with one another but is it possible for all of us to recognize that ALL have fallen short of the grace of God?  Is it possible that we leave well enough alone those things that are out of our control and instead to simply reach across the table, the picket line, the street, the pew – and tell the person that looks different than we are that we love them?  Is it possible that love actually can be the bonding agent that brings unity to the human race?

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