Common ground

I am blessed to have a long list of friends from around the world. They come in every size and shape and color and creed. Here are just a few of the things we might have in common: size, shape, height, color, creed, educational experience, professional backgrounds, shared friendships, shared interests, political opinions, family histories,cultural expectations, location affiliations, school affiliations, cheering for the same teams, hobbies, talents, Scriptural understandings, sense of humor, loyalties, stubbornness, favorite colors, favorite seasons, aversions to higher mathematics, family pets, appreciation for the arts, love of reading and words, similar life choices, similar life struggles, our humanity, lack of perfection, the determination to correct that previous one, civic responsibilities, citizenship, goals, food preferences, entertainment choices, allergies, life choices…

IMG_20130810_075558_396In sharp contrast, here are a few things we might also NOT have in common:  size, shape, height, color, creed, educational experience, professional backgrounds, shared friendships, shared interests, political opinions, family histories, cultural expectations, location affiliations, school affiliations, cheering for the same teams, hobbies, talents, Scriptural understandings, sense of humor, loyalties, stubbornness, favorite colors, favorite seasons, aversions to higher mathematics, family pets, appreciation for the arts, love of reading and words, similar life choices, similar life struggles, our humanity, lack of perfection, the determination to correct that previous one, civic responsibilities, citizenship, goals, food preferences, entertainment choices, allergies, life choices…

Isn’t that amazing? Sometimes the very things that unite us are also some of the very things that divide us. These differences are never what we focus on when my friends and I are together. Our focus is always on those things we have in common. In fact, if I waited until I found only those people who look, think, live, choose and believe exactly like I do to make friends, then my friend list would be decidedly blank–and so would yours. So what if we decided to choose to do that with others around us this year? We just might expand our friendship base, our knowledge, our experiences of new and exciting opportunities or–oh my goodness!--our influence.

That doesn’t mean that we give up our belief systems or what is important to us. Just the opposite! It means that we choose to find the common ground so we can build relationships. It means the start of some hard conversations and, perhaps, difficult examinations of our beliefs. In short, it means work. It means we model CHRIST!

Uh-oh. Now I’ve gone to meddling, right?

Here’s the deal:  If we’re really serious about living HIM in the coming year, it means we’re going to have to choose to step up our game! It means we need to know WHAT we believe and WHY…and here’s the kicker:  if it doesn’t line up with what GOD says in His Word about what we’re supposed to believe or do, then it simply has to go. When we know those things, we can choose to find the common ground and we’ll be ready to share Christ with those around us in ways that will resonate with them.

If my number one goal is to be like Christ and your number one goal is to be like Christ, we may still have things that we have to agree to disagree about, but when our main goals are the same, we can leave it up to God to sort out the differences and lead us all into the deeper truths we can find in Him.

Nothing resonates with people like loving them the way God loves them. Now, what do we need to do to show them HIM today?

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