Wait! We’re Different?!? Advent Devotion #3
“ Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10
“ From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
REFLECT: Today’s JOY thought is taken from Ron and Karen Flowers’ “Celebrating Our Differences. ”
At the heart of the matter is the fact that Christ has already dealt with differences. The gospel expressly attends to the gulfs which have separated God from human beings and human beings from each other. In Christ, God has reconciled the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18). In Galatians 3:28 and Ephesians 2:13-22, Paul catalogs differences in the macrospheres that have divided the human race over time: religious, ethnic, cultural, tribal, and national differences; political, societal, and economic differences; as well as gender differences. Had Paul chosen to do so, he might have extended his list to include differences in the microspheres of family origin, health, habits, age, education, temperament, birth order, physical stature, and appearance. The point is that God, through Christ, has reconciled all kinds of people to one another.
Paul’s argument in Ephesians 2:13- 22 can be extended beyond the Jew-Gentile differences he cites, to address the divergence that threatens every friendship and intimate relationship. Notice that the bringing together is, first of all, God’s work. He has put us into Christ by His own divine act (1 Cor. 1:30). We have been reconciled in His “one body.” The hostility between us died when He died. That is the objective spiritual fact upon which the apostle can say that there is now “one” where once there were “two.” There is now “peace” where there was “hostility.” By virtue of His cross, barriers which separate people from each other have been removed (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:16). Paul goes so far as to say that Christ is our peace.
In Alfred Wallace’s classic film, The Toymaker, two hand puppets are playing happily. Unable to see their own faces, they think they look alike. They do not realize that one’s face is spotted, the other’s striped. In time the truth comes out. They confirm it with a mirror, and then distance themselves from each other, eventually becoming distrustful and violent toward each other because they are “different.” In turn, they each climb the arm of the puppeteer to seek an alliance with him against the one who used to be their friend. The Toymaker ex plains, “I made you both, and I love you both. I couldn’t take sides against either of you. After all, you are both the same thing.” When they disagree with the toymaker’s view of their situation, he moves first one, then the other up his arm, across his chest and down his other arm to discover the other puppet. Despite this demonstration, they continue their warfare but become increasingly anguished within themselves. At the climactic moment of the film they lay down their weapons. Stripe says, “Hey, Spot! We’re all one thing! You, me, and the Toymaker!” To which Spot starts to re ply, “Then, when you hit me it hurts you, because….” Stripe finishes the sentence, “because I’m really hurting part of my self.” Their sense of connection through the Toymaker’s body has brought peace at last.
Yesterday in church, our pastor said, “Christmas is the beginning of the culmination of God’s redemptive work. It’s the culmination of what the world has been waiting for since Genesis 3:15, ‘He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel,’” in reference to the serpent and Christ.
As the Flowers’ write, because of the cross of Christ, we have been redeemed, and our differences no longer matter as all barriers have been removed. Now this doesn’t mean that men and women don’t have any differences. It means that our differences should not be a point of contention. God uniquely designed a man and a woman beautifully and differently and that is reason to celebrate. [See my posts for more about a woman’s design: What We Were Designed For; You are Seriously Beautiful; And God Said It Was Not Good?; This Little Game Called Envy; The Scary “S” Word; and Under the Arm and Near the Heart.]
What better time is there to celebrate differences in your marriage than during the Christmas season! As followers of Christ, we have been redeemed and we can uniquely embrace our differences in a way that the world cannot. Take joy in your differences because you have been redeemed and the love of God lives in your hearts!
The Son of God came to earth born of a virgin in a town that had no room for Him. He was born in a stable, wrapped in cloth, and laid in a feeding trough and His first visitors were dirty, smelly shepherds, the lowliest of low members of society. During Advent, remember to make room in your heart for Jesus, but this is also a great time to make room in your heart and life for your spouse’s differences.
Lately I’ve been watching Star Trek movies with my husband to better understand why he loves it so much, and now I’ve seen all 11. Adam officially deemed me a “trekky” last night. I don’t know how I feel about that, but it was nice to spend time in each other’s arms enjoying something he likes. This Christmas season, make room in your life for your spouse’s differences. Make it a point to honor your husband (or wife) by doing something he (or she) loves once a week. [For more on this subject, read Stop Being So Busy, Give Things He Loves a Chance, and Broken: Love Poured Out].
Make-it-Work Mondays Ideas
1. Pick a task/chore your husband really dislikes and do it for him this week. [Other Acts of Service Ideas]
2. Find or make a little gift for your husband, something he really enjoys, but you may not, and give it to him. [Other Gift-Giving Ideas]
3. What really turns your husband on? Pick one thing to do this week to please him sexually – perhaps something you don’t do very often or something you’ve never tried but he would like. [Other Physical Affection and Attention Ideas]
4. Spend time with your spouse doing something he enjoys. Get to know him better through this activity. Ask him why he likes it so much. Or ask him to teach you something. [Other Quality Time Ideas]
5. Praise your husband frequently this week, complimenting his differences in private and in front of others. Build him up by affirming his differences. [Other Words of Affirmation Ideas]
RESPOND: You, oh Lord, are worthy of our praise. All glory to You, Redeemer King, who sent Your Only Son to earth to redeem Your lowly creation and to restore our honor and worth once again in Your eyes. Lord, we pray that we would make room in our hearts and lives for you this Christmas season – that You wouldn’t get shoved behind all the tasks and busyness of the holidays. We thank You for the joy of being married to each other. We thank You for diversity in our marriage, for the differences that make us each unique. This Christmas season, we pray that we would honor one another by celebrating our differences and giving one another preference. Forgive us for allowing differences at times to be a point of conflict in our marriage. In Your Name, Amen.
REJOICE: What are you joyful for today? I am joyful for my husband’s heart of compassion, for his intellect and wisdom, and for his fascinating mind that processes information so differently from mine.
Your Turn! Share 3 Things that you’re joyful for (regarding your husband’s differences) down in the comments below!