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July 11, 2020

God’s Very Good Idea

By Lisa Burnette

Out of my daughters’ collection of books, one of my favorites is “God’s Very Good Idea” by Trillia Newbell. The cover of the book features a glowing lightbulb surrounded by cute illustrations of smiling children’s faces of every color. Underneath the lightbulb, a speech bubble accentuates the words, “A True Story About God’s Delightfully Different Family.”

The words, “delightfully different,” stand out to me. As simple and sweet as those words are, I am all too aware that “delightfully different” often feels like “complex and complicated.”

As a part of Grace, I am thankful for the conversations that the church has had recently. Instead of hiding from conversations about racism, prejudice, and injustice, Grace has chosen to engage in listening to and acknowledging those who have been affected by it.

Difficult conversations, no matter the topic, are rarely comfortable and never easy. As Christians, we all have different backgrounds and experiences, and broaching difficult topics, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ, can feel like stepping onto shaky ground.

While there are some who may feel these conversations may be polarizing, it is more unhelpful and unloving to pretend that our differences do not exist. Whether our differences are cultural, racial, political, economical, physical, or something else entirely, a gentle willingness to talk about what is significant and impactful in the lives of one another is helpful. It says, “I see you. I see that this is important to you. I want to learn.”

And as long as we are exchanging words that are seasoned with grace (Ephesians 4:29), these conversations can become the catalysts of change that help us move forward in loving one another more genuinely. As we’re learning in Ephesians, loving one another genuinely is no new struggle. The believers at Ephesus wrestled with internal division between Jews and Gentiles, when Paul penned these words: “For He [Christ] Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

In our relationships, it can feel easier and safer to coast along on surface-level pleasantries and to steer completely clear from areas where we may not agree, but God calls us to love one another deeply (1 Peter 4:8). We can’t stay in the shallow end when we are meant to be genuine family. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been reconciled to Him, so with His help, we can do the work of being reconciled to one another.

Frenzied Facebook posts, article sharing, and words posted in all caps do not count as loving conversations. While our posts and articles may contain insightful information, they are not a substitute for real dialogue with our family, friends, and neighbors.

Instead of awkwardly trying to ignore the fact that we are not all the same, let’s instead do our best to have grace-filled conversations that are fueled by genuine interest and compassionate understanding.

And when we don’t understand, let’s kindly ask each other for help. Empathy is worth the effort, and the church is called to be extenders of Christ’s extravagant grace. Coming together as God’s delightfully different family requires risk and an open-hearted willingness to humbly listen.

Within her book, Newbell points out to children and adults alike, that “everyone you see is different than you, and the same as you.” She reminds us that all people are God’s idea and that we are all made in His image. “Each person, like a mirror, reflecting what God is like.” Let’s learn from one another and celebrate the differences He has blessed us with. Let’s truly hear one another when we share our sorrows and triumphs. Let’s remember that God wholeheartedly loves each of us – and our differences and diversity – are part of His very good idea.

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