I apologize right up front as my French is quite deficient. The above is a fairly close approximation of the French term used quite a lot in my former years. “Live the Difference” is a pretty fair translation. The term was used to accentuate and celebrate the difference experienced by people. The original saying was punctuated with an exclamation mark, adding vigor to the statement. How boring it was to think we all had to be alike. Today? Not so sure. In fact, I punctuated my grammatically tortured title with a question mark.
Why? We have decided we no longer like, nor can even tolerate difference. If one doesn’t like something I’m reading, the proper response is to have the book banned. If my expression of human sexuality is different from yours, mine is to be vilified and laws passed restricting it. If I don’t like what the school is teaching, I will take “my” tax dollars to another school, perhaps unaccredited. If my understanding of reproductive rights is different…well, you get the picture.
How did we get to the place where “different” is to be squashed, where those who don’t agree with us are enemies to be crushed? How have we allowed our culture to become so shallow that there is no room for nuance and serious, complicated discussion? The answer to these questions is as nuanced as the questions themselves. Yet, the growing abhorrence of the “different” is distinctly un-Scriptural.
Many places in the New Testament affirm the difference that exists between followers of Jesus and non-followers of Jesus. Are we to crush the non-adherents? Are we to force others into our understanding of God and how God works in the world? Or, are we simply to acknowledge the difference and strive to live into the love and grace of God, inviting others to know that love and grace? I’m pretty sure disciples aren’t made by belittling, insulting, hating, and ostracizing others.
Why this today? Well, we are going to enter the world of First Peter on Sunday. This writer is crystal clear that we are to be different. We are to eschew the norms of the world (see above) in order to show forth the love of God in Christ.
Since we are quoting tired old bromides, you need to know that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. What will you learn from Peter? How will you ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to live into a new way of being? We’ll also gather to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
See you Sunday,