Eliminating Differences

After reading Peter’s revelation in Acts 10, I realized that it could not be more relevant today. It is easy to read Acts 10 without thinking much of it. It is a common story and the initial thought may be, great, we can eat shrimp and bacon. However, we fail to comprehend how monumental the revelations were at the time. I can’t think of a difference that is akin to Jews and Gentiles in biblical times. It is definitely not something we are familiar with.

It seems like we are becoming more divided each day. It may be that I am becoming more observant as I get older or that people are becoming more rooted in their ideologies and beliefs than before. Whether it’s Democrats vs. Republics, Atheists vs. Christians, men vs. women, gay vs. straight, patriotic vs. non-patriotic or a million other dividing factors; we seem to be a generation focused on our differences and unable to overcome them.

For the sake of simplicity, I will use Democrats and Republicans as an analogy. It is apparent that Democrats and Republicans do not agree on many issues. Over a year after a very divisive election, we are still feeling the fallout. The ideological differences between the two groups seem to go far beyond political disagreements. Oftentimes it seems like they disagree for the sake of disagreeing. Now, imagine that one day you turn on CNN, Fox, etc. with the headline that both parties have agreed to forget their differences and accept each other as their own. This analogy doesn’t even begin to match that of the Jews bringing the news of Jesus to the Gentiles.

How do we overcome our differences? As Christians, we are called to love everyone not just those that we agree with. Regardless of denomination, religion, political party, skin color or other differentiating factors. This is not and will not be easy. Our culture teaches us that life is a zero-sum game and that we need to win at any expense. We must see through this lie and be willing to put ourselves out there first. We can’t wait for others to meet us halfway. We must be willing to go all of the way without receiving anything in return.

I will be working on this change daily and I challenge you to do the same!

Acts 10:34-36. Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Acts 10:44-46. Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other and praising God.

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Being Open-Minded

cross-2276772_1920Proverbs 18:15

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

Proverbs describes wisdom as being more valuable than the most valuable jewels. It tells us to seek out wisdom above all things. But how would this look in daily life? I know oftentimes I am not very open-minded to people who have differing opinions than myself. I also know that this is a common complaint from non-believers against the church.

We become so set in our ways once we form beliefs on a subject. It becomes difficult to see things from another person’s perspective. However, even the most intelligent and wise person could not be so without learning from others. So why do we become so hard-headed and difficult to teach? Why don’t we approach every conversation, opportunity, experience as a learning experience instead of seeing only what we already know and how we can push our own agenda?

As Romans 12:2 says, we need to renew our minds in order to view the world like Christ. This is very prevalent to being open-minded. We need to renew our minds to see everything as a learning experience. Every discussion, whether with a like-minded person or a very different person, would provide an opportunity to learn. How would we gain wisdom if we surrounded ourselves only with like-minded people? Then we would only be exposed to things we already know and people who confirm our thoughts and beliefs.

I’m not saying we need to agree with every person we encounter, but we can accept a person and their beliefs without agreeing with them. We can treat a person with respect and love even though their beliefs are fundamentally different than our own. Jesus was a Jew and what He preached and taught was often in opposition to the practices of Judaism. He didn’t teach by jamming theology down their throat, He did it through his miracles and acts of love.

Open-mindedness is increasingly relevant today. The media and society are constantly dividing us with the issues of the day. They do this because it increases and strengthens their base. However, if we instead focused on what we have in common and were more accepting of our differences, how different would our society be?

We need to be more open and loving towards others. When we are open and accepting of them, they are that much more open and accepting of us. What better way to reach the lost? How much more could we learn if we did not focus on differences but instead on what we could achieve by helping one another. We cannot grow if we only spend time with those who confirm our own beliefs and sentiments.

Future Political Representatives

How are political candidates and campaigns going to differ when candidates from the Facebook/Twitter/MySpace generation begin running for political office? There will be significantly more public information about the candidates including pictures and information about their lives before considering running for office. In the past we have seen instances where a picture or some other piece of a representatives past has caused them problems. How long after something takes place in a person’s life can they be held accountable for that? If, for instance, a candidate lived the stereotypical college life including parties and wild sporting events, will they be deemed out of control and not fit to hold public office? Will every person who aspires to running for office have to seclude themselves completely from social media in order to prevent negative information surfacing in their future? Or will it appear suspicious if a candidate does not have any social media presence prior to their campaign? It will be interesting to see how new technology creates problems or solutions for the politicians of the future.

How do you decide who to vote for for president?

Today it seems impossible to find reliable information on presidential candidates. Every news source gives tainted information to try and lead viewers in one direction or the other. How can a voter get unbiased information on the candidates in order to form an opinion of their own? If we are expected to form our own judgments, how come every news source tries to steer us towards their own political views? Not only does that make it difficult to form our own opinion, but voters become more and more stubborn in their views when they are only open to news sources that support them. I’m not saying that either side is correct or incorrect, but I believe it is important for people to keep an open mind and to reassess what they deem important every so often so that they remain well-informed and unbiased in their views. How can a person understand both sides if they only allow themselves to see or hear one of them? I have found one or two news sources that tell the news how it is and try to keep their own opinions out of it, but these are not the sources that most people rely on. Everyone has their own opinion and there are an infinite number of issues that are important every election cycle, making it very difficult to keep up with all of the information that is necessary to be a well-informed voter. My main point is that I think more people should attempt to see both sides of a topic, rather than becoming entrenched in their own side.