(originally posted in 2012)
have you ever not wanted to like something, but despite your best, pre-determined efforts, somehow, someway, whatever it was that you were keeping at arm’s length plowed on through, as a result, you ending up liking it.
maybe it was a person. maybe it was the obnoxious person in the room, and you thought what a jerk as soon as he walked in the door. but you somehow got stuck next to him near the grill, and realized he wasn’t so bad after all.
or it was a TV show. one of those shows you mock others for watching. but you were flipping channels one Saturday afternoon and it was on. you thought, “let’s see what all the buzz is about,” and it was entertaining. you’re not going to DVR it every week, but you get why people like it.
or it was a meal. you’ve had a lifelong battle with vegetables. you know you should eat them, but you just can’t make yourself do it. but you went over to a friend’s house and the main dish was chocked full of vegetables. you couldn’t be rude, so you took a bite. it may have not been your favorite, but it wasn’t that bad either.
here’s what i’ve discovered about different—it’s not always bad.
now that’s not to say that it’s always good either.
in fact, sometimes different is, well, just different.
we recently left a church we had been at for the past four years. we loved the church. we loved the people. but the church we first fell in love with was completely different four years later. different leadership. different direction.
and the different no longer fit our family, our style of worship and even our some of our perspectives.
and in that process, we were faced with a very subtle, but damaging temptation.
we could have let our hurt and disappointment of the “different” taint our words. we could have told everyone about how the church had changed for the worse. we could have let our frustration with having to start somewhere new spill out in toxic ways.
but that wouldn’t have been true.
because the reality was that the church was still filled with good people.
it was still filled with people who had a passion to serve God and connect other people to Him.
but it just wasn’t the place for us anymore. it was time for our family to move on.
and the reality is that just because something is different, just because something doesn’t fit my expectations or personal preferences, doesn’t make it bad.
sometimes it just makes it different.
it’s why you and i can go to two different churches and both walk away challenged and encouraged. because God is bigger than one church.
it’s why one of us may love to watch a pastor online and feel like a part of a big, worldwide community, and another of us would prefer to sit in a congregation and have a conversation with the pastor afterwards.
before Jesus was arrested, He prayed for unity among His followers. in John 17:22-24, Jesus says: “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!” (NLT).
so when you’re tempted to slam another church because they play different music, or have a drama team, or call their pastor brother, or are really big, or super small, remember—we are all one body. and aside from core doctrinal issues, if how they do church is different than your preference, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
it may just be different.