- This sermon was preached at Corona Presbyterian Church, Denver,
Colorado on March 22, 1992
- Ephesians 4:1-14
Why did God create us different? so that the body of Christ may be built
up until we all reach unity in the faith? and become mature? and no longer
No - No, unity cannot be based on being different. It is based on being
the SAME. Especially when this same is just like I AM. After all there is
only one Christian perspective on political issues such as homosexual civil
rights, separation of church and state, government funding of welfare and
government funding of nuclear arms.
If we are to be unified, we need to agree on these issues; after all I
believe I have the mind of Christ on all these issues. Most of my friends
AGREE with me.
Unity is also based on being in the same economic strata of society. We
who ride to our worship services in our relatively new cars from our nice
homes and apartments, have so very little in common with those poor
underprivileged (or lazy) men and women who visit the Denver Rescue Mission
to get their meals at night.
I really like the more spirit filled worship of our first service. You
know its there that we REALLY praise God. I know it is because we
sing so many choruses that we experience the closeness to God or I just
can't seem to enjoy the first service at Corona, The guitars, drums and
Nightclub style worship is empty. Isn't KWBI really wonderful? Actually I
prefer KOOL 105 - Oldies.
Corona is not going charismatic is it? I am so uncomfortable around them
or I am so glad that we can finally experience the Holy Spirit in our
worship. Jeff even gave us permission to raise our hands. I can't understand
why anyone who is a Christian does not like .......
In our marriages, we all know that unity comes only when the wife finally
submits to her husband in spite of the fact that he is morally bankrupt,
drinks far too much and cheats on his income taxes.
This idea of diversity is God's idea and it is GOOD. Turn with me to
Vs 1 - In the beginning God created - the heavens and the earth, darkness
vs3 light, 5-8 created the SKY separate from the water, vs9 added dry land,
reproductive vegetation, seasons, light - sun, moon, stars - living
creatures, birds that fly across the sky, great creatures of the sea, living
creatures for the land, livestock, wild creatures that move along the
ground, finally he created humankind - both female and male
It was all Good! This complex diverse universe willed into
creation by the creator of the universe was telling us that it was GOOD -
that diversity was fundamental to the design of the universe.
The first characteristic we see of God himself is creativity. He made
both Male and Female in his own image. Our heavenly parent made us
all different from each other. Think of all our uniqueness. Our
fingerprints, our weights, our body shapes, our personalities, our personal
preferences in music, food, sports, adventure, reading.
If we have a very healthy personality and good self image we can easily
accept this uniqueness. Unfortunately many of us think far less of
ourselves than does God who designed and made us. We see primarily our
faults, and primarily the strengths that others seem to be given.
Even in many of our churches we try to replicate one another. A well known
spiritual leader/ author defines discipling as "the process of reproducing
in others what the spirit of God is doing in you and in turn enabling them
to reproduce in a third generation." This definition of making disciples can
be very destructive. Implicit in the definition is that our Lord desires you
to be like me and your experiences to be like my experience. Both the
doctrine of Creation as well as the doctrine of spiritual gifts teach us
that diversity is good. It was created by God himself.
Diversity in style, interests and spiritual calling is at the very core of
how God designed us.
Many of us think that happiness in relationships will come out of us all
thinking the same wa y. I would really like to come down hard against blind
Proverbs 3:5-6 says Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not
unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him and HE WILL
DIRECT THY PATHS. We do not need permission of the majority to know God
direction for our life. It is my feeling that scripture teaches that we need
the benefit of insight and perceptions given to those around us, but that we
are responsible for our own actions. In Romans chapter 14, the apostle Paul
exhorts Christians not to pass judgment on one another in disputable
matters. Unfortunately, many of us seem to have few or no disputable
matters. After all, those who claim to have views different from ours must
need the enlightenment that we have been given. Christians do not agree on
all matters pertaining to the Christian live, nor do we need to. Verse 14
says, "Each of us will give an account of him to God." It is God who is the
judge of our brothers and sisters not we.
We can sometime feel inferior when we think we are different.We can also
be critical of others who are different from ourselves. I believe that
affirmation of the truth that God MADE us different puts both of these ideas
in a bad light. We may not like diversity, but its reality is designed by
As we move into the arena of spiritual formation, do we believe that true
godly character is for the most part like myself? I can honestly say that
ten years ago, that is what I felt. If you patterned your life after mine,
you would be well on your way toward fully pleasing God. The scary thing is
that perhaps some of you might have said the same thing about me. I am not
the same person I was ten or five years ago, last year and hopefully even
last week. We have been created by God to grow, change and mature. A
fundamental measure of that growth and maturation process is how we respond
to those with whom we differ. Are we quick to listen and learn and open to
refinement when God's Spirit begins to lead us? Or are do we rush to apply
certain litmus tests for orthodoxy, style or consistency. Do we reject
something just because it seems to contradict some value we have already
embraced? Do we reject paradoxes?
Fear of our uniqueness
First of all are we threatened? Are we afraid to express our ideas,
convictions or feelings because they are different from either most of those
around us or those spiritual giants who have graced our presence? During our
week of prayer one theme that seemed to be recurring is that the church
should be a sanctuary for those seeking God. It is to be a place where, when
we question our faith or the status quo, such legitimate questions are
welcomed and form the fundamental basis for us to learn from one another. If
we feel we must maintain a certain image with someone, we put the damper on
intimacy. If we put others down, even subtly, we quench the enthusiasm for
discovering new truth. Speaking the truth in love is very difficult on us
when the truth is that we disagree with the party line and we greatly fear
rejection. Just last week, after the second service, I was talking with
someone. I casually mentioned had she given any consideration to joining the
choir. After all I knew that she was a good singer and was also a very
reliable person, faithful to her commitments when she makes them. Her
response was "Choir is not where I am exactly." I said, "Where are you?" She
then replied, "on the far fringe of Corona Church." As we talked I felt that
she was seeking God and that even though I am the director of music here and
would love to have her in the choir, I wanted no part of trying to talk her
into it. If that is to ever come about, I want the Lord to give her the
desire, for her to respond to that desire. If that happens we will rejoice
together. If it does not, I want her to discover all that would bring her a
rich life - even without the choir. I will rejoice in that as well.
Judgment of others uniqueness
While some of us struggle with self-confidence amidst our uniqueness,
others of us develop a strong critical attitude against those who are not
like ourselves. I believe that this judgmental attitude is just as common
inside the church based of course on spiritual matters as it is outside the
church on society driven moral/political values.
If you believe that abortion is always wrong, do you brand those who call
themselves "pro choice" as sub-Christian. Have you ever set down and tried
to hear how someone who names the name of Jesus could embrace that position?
When you talk to them, do you need to resort to character assassination? I
confess that I find that it is often very difficult for me to accept and
love people whose ideas are different from mine.
In some churches, participation in certain programs of the church become
the litmus tests of spirituality. You aren't in any small group? Why would
anyone not jump at the chance to be an elder, deacon or trustee? Do we put
people in boxes by what they say, or don't say?
I pray that as a church we love and accept all persons that come our way.
May we look into our own lives, hearts and feelings and seek insight and
revelation even if it brings pain, because consciousness of our own sins,
gifts, temptations, weakness and strengths is so very much better than
blindness to all these things. I pray that if we try to make others to be
like ourselves that we can give up this attempt to control others and
entrust them into the hands of our loving God who in his own wisdom made
them different from ourselves. Although I still find this very hard to do at
times, it is an easier task today than last year. This is particularly
humbling when the hardest of people to love are the very ones so much like
we perceive ourselves to have been.
How wonderful it is if we can CELEBRATE with joy that God made no
mistakes in this area. According to our scripture text in Ephesians
accepting our uniqueness and diversity happens only when we are mature and
no longer infants. Where are you in your spiritual pilgrimage of enjoying
and thanking God for your own uniqueness and the uniqueness of those who are
not like ourselves? Let us pray.
Lord, your love knows no bounds, no limits, no distinctions. We thank you
for your individual love for each of us. (silence) It is so hard to live out
of step with the majority. Give us courage to speak out when we fear
rejection by those from whom we desire acceptance and love. (silence) We
know that for most of us, we prefer to be with others that are a great deal
like ourselves. However, we confess that when we begin to look down on
others because of these differences, we have sinned. (silence) We pray for
those from whom we differ in religion, race and politics. Help us to respect
their point of view and to love them as they are loved so very much by you.
God and Father of us all, through the death and resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ you have overcome the sin which separates us from you and from
one another: shed your love with such great abundance in our hearts that by
the Holy Spirit we may disregard every consideration of race and color,
economic and cultural diversity, political aberration and see all fellow
Christians as your family for whom the Savior died. Help us love them as he
loves us, even when we so strongly disagree with their ideas. It is in the
strong name of Jesus Christ our Lord that we pray, have thine own way Lord,
help us to accept our uniqueness and affirm and accept the uniqueness of