Can two people think differently and both be right? Is that possible?
Yesterday’s post on the contention between Paul and Barnabas – or pillows and swords as I referred to them yesterday – generated a lot of good discussion. I want to expand on the idea that I started yesterday about how two people can be very different – in their thinking and their personality and their decision making process – yet neither one is necessarily wrong.
People are different. That is a fact. From our fingerprints to our personal experiences to our ways of processing information, we are each unique creations of God. We are not randomly designed, but rather “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
We think differently. We talk differently. We react differently. We are different!
So far no one will disagree with me. But here comes the hard part: JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS DIFFERENT DOESN’T MAKE THEM WRONG. Different doesn’t mean wrong. It just means different.
I know it sounds simple enough, but it isn’t necessarily. In my opinion, the lack of ability to accept differences between people is one of the biggest causes of fighting and contention in the church today. And sadly it seems like the longer you are a Christian and the more time you spend in church, the more likely you are to fall into this trap – of thinking that you know the right way and everyone who disagrees must be wrong.
In my opinion, it’s the lack of ability to appreciate differences and embrace them that causes the majority of conflict in churches. I also believe it causes the majority of conflict in marriage as well. Take the example of my wife Marianne and I.
As I told you guys yesterday, I am a sword and she is a pillow. No doubt about that one. You wouldn’t need to spend more than 5 minutes with us to figure out who the “nice one” is among us (readers, you can feel free to disagree with me on this point).
From the very start I knew that we were inherently different. But that was ok because I loved those differences. Those differences are actually what attracted me most to her. I couldn’t marry another sword – we’d kill each other. A sword needs a nice soft pillow to land on to avoid damage. I loved the fact that she was different!
But what happens over time? Over time, I realized that these differences sometimes meant that we would disagree or that we’d have different ideas about how to solve a problem or deal with an issue. I started to think that her way was wrong and my way was right. I didn’t realize that different doesn’t mean wrong; it just means different.
So then I did what any loving husband would do… I tried to fix her – to make her more like me. And she probably tried to do the same to me. Not surprisingly, both of us failed and both of us felt frustrated. We were looking at our differences in the wrong way. Instead of embracing our differences, we resisted them.
Eventually we learned to value and appreciate our differences. We realized that God brought us together because He knew that those differences would add richness and balance to our marriage. He knew that my “swordness” needed a “pillow” like Marianne and vice versa. Once we accepted and embraced this idea, God really opened our eyes to the beauty of marriage and how we were made to live. He made us realize that our differences – if we could learn to use them properly – would eventually be our greatest asset.
How do you see different? Is different wrong? Or is different just different?
If you can’t learn to accept the differences God has placed in others, you will never reach your maximum potential in life – especially if you are a leader of some sorts and are trying to get the most out of a group of people.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all… One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11
Question for discussion: What lessons have you learned about the differences between us? Leave a comment and I’ll my best to respond to comments made today.