20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)
I love this verse and The Message paraphrase brings it alive. It's a perfect fit for my thoughts on relationships today.
Have you ever noticed how in life partners and friendships we are attracted to personalities that are different to our own? "Opposites attract," so the saying goes, and it is true. We see in that other, something we instinctively admire--something we don't have in the measure he/she does, if at all.
But it's not long before the rosy haze wears off and we wonder why our friend/spouse doesn't see the world the way we do. The differences we loved can grate with time, as if they are something negative.
How hard it can be to remember that difference is a gift. That is evident by observing God's magnificent variety in nature.He intended difference--colour; spice; rainbows--the wonder of different personalities.
What if we celebrated difference in one another?
What if we fully accepted one another's differences and even honoured them?
What if we refused ever again to make a joke about the style or personality of someone that is different to our own?
What if we respected who God made others as a holy thing and not to be touched except with trembling hands?
A few years ago our church ran the Alpha course; designed to reach people who have never set foot in a church or seriously considered God. Paul and I went through training to host a group in our home. After viewing a video each week, we asked questions designed to elicit discussion, but were not supposed to engage in "teaching" or giving "expert opinions." The point was to gently give space for people to talk and air their beliefs. The videos did an excellent job of presenting the case for faith. If someone expressed what we thought was an outrageous opinion, we were taught to simply say something like, "That's very interesting," so that we kept the conversation going.
I think there's something there that I could transpose onto my current conversations with friends! Differing people have differing points of view. If I could listen better without trying to wave the banner for my own viewpoint so emphatically, I would be the richer.
So I thank God today for my relationships in all of their splendid diversity, and I aim, with God's help to be better at expressing that gratitude in my words, attitudes and actions.
I'm going to try saying, "That's very interesting," more often--and mean it.