Application Steps to Loving Others Despite Our Differences

Because of the importance of Sunday’s message (Loving others despite our differences) to the current state of the church. We believe it is necessary to share some practical application steps that will help us live out the message.

James 1:22-25 (NLT)
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

Below are some spiritual disciplines to practice regularly to cultivate compassion and humility.  Even if we're not ready to practice these all the time, I encourage any Christ follower to try it out at least once.  

Prayer & Thanksgiving
We can pray for those we disagree with.  We can pray that God blesses them, their families, and their children.  We can ask God to bless the places where they work.  We can also thank God for the good that they do.  If we cannot do this, then we have our work cut out for us don't we?  

Romans 12:14-16 (NIV)
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Spend Time with People You Disagree with
Have lunch, a drink or even a conversation with those that are different from you and talk about easy, universal topics like sports, work, kids.  Seek to understand "the other" to have a more open heart.  DO NOT have a conversation with them to convert them to your opinion.  Just get to know them, their situation, and their heart.  For example, if you see someone with a tattoo and that scares you, you could ask the person to tell you about the story behind the tattoo.  

Do Something for that Person
Perhaps it's a neighbor that you have differences with or a co-worker.  Look for a small, concrete way to serve or bless them. Maybe take out their trash, hold the door open for them or buy them a coffee.

Do Your Ordinary Errands in Another Part of the City
This is a more challenging idea that I believe was proposed by Dallas Willard as a spiritual discipline that would help us understand what it's like to live in other parts of our town.  For example, you could do groceries or maybe banking on the other side of town that is less well off or more well off or populated by ethnicities different than your side of town.  This helps foster compassion and understanding for those different from us.  It is not "natural" and possibly not as efficient but the end goal is training in Christlikeness so we can be the kind of people that love those who disagree with us.

This isn't an exhaustive list but are just some ways to allow God's love to flow through us to help create avenues of transformation and blessing.  

by Joyce Liu, Spiritual Director

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