“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
There you have it. God’s genius, laid out in a simple three-letter word in the very first verse of the Holy Bible: and.
God created heaven and earth. Light and dark. Male and female. From the very beginning, the Master Creator has been all about “and,” a small function word we use to connect words or phrases. It denotes inclusiveness and sometimes difference, but always, always connection. It’s what makes and so powerful.
God, in His wisdom, created the world and everything within it to be different. He made sure no two people were exactly alike, to the point of giving each human being a unique fingerprint. He made sure no two bodies of water or landforms or animals were exactly alike. Everything He made, everything around us, is different—divinely different.
Living among and with differences is what makes our world so beautiful. It’s how God intended it to be—spirit and body, pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, life and death. Living with differences is this life. It’s core to God’s plan in helping us to become who He intends us to become. It’s how we live and learn. And we all know that isn’t always easy to do.
What Would Jesus Do?
If learning to live with differences is part of God’s plan, there must be a blueprint to know how to navigate the complexities of living with opposites, opposition, and differing opinions. For us today, the gospel of Jesus Christ is that blueprint.
During His mortal life, Jesus Christ, the holiest of us all, could have done what was logical and stuck with those who loved Him and were most like Him. But He didn’t. He touched, helped, and healed those with physical differences that made them social outcasts. He dined with men regarded as liars, cheats, and sinners and was judged harshly by the Pharisees for doing so. When questioned by them about His choice of guests, He said, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17).
When the Pharisees asked Him to condemn a woman caught in adultery, He taught a valuable lesson about not “casting stones” because none of us are perfect. But it’s in how He responded to her that we learn the real lesson. He didn’t shirk from correcting; He said, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). So we shouldn’t shirk from standing up for the commandments and correcting when necessary. But He also didn’t condemn her either. In that act, He showed loving kindness. And that’s the lesson we can all learn. Do we correct in kindness or condemn with contention?