Healthy Relationships have Similarities and Differences

We are learning to enter the distance between ourselves and others through relational instruction in the Bible.


“We do our best work and live our best lives when we charge into the vast space between ourselves and others.”  Joshua Wolf Shenk in Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs.


Discovering profound similarities energizes friendship development.


Embracing significant differences fuels friendship maturation.


The late Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, couldn’t have been more different ideologically.  On most matters of law they were diametrically opposed one to the other.


At the same time, Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg shared joyful similarities and became best of friends.


On April 15, 1947, with the encouragement and support of Pee Wee Reese, a person very different from himself, Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.


When Jackie took the field for the first time, vitriol, hatred, racism and cruelty poured out of the stands.  Jackie was different and not welcomed nor wanted by many.


Pee Wee Reese made a statement to Jackie that has impacted nations, people and families.  Jackie and Pee Wee were very different from each other and yet similar.


Consider the importance of friendship similarities and differences in the Bible.


The Jonathan and David’s similarities quickly led to an enduring friendship.


18 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.   1 Samuel 18:1-3


C.S. Lewis hints at the importance of similarities for friendship discovery.


“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


Differences are inevitable and essential for relational growth and sustenance.


Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.  Proverbs 27:5, 6


17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17


The Christianizing of our lives includes the total transformation of who we are and how we relate to God, others and ourselves.  2 Corinthians 5:17


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


Salvation, at the core, includes the birth of new ways of relating.


“Charging into the Vast Space Between Ourselves and Others,” is designed to inspire your faith to courageously move into relationships with people who are both similar and different from yourself.


MCA Life Groups are intentionally designed to help you see personal transformation in your ways of relating.  Will you develop the courage and commitment to maximize your church’s relational opportunities?


Jesus reframes relationship with God in John 15:15


15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.


From that day forward God and humans are to relate as friends.


How is this possible?  God is totally different than humans.  There is no similarity between the two.


Until Jesus!


14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Philippians 2:5-7


In a sense, Jesus put on our jersey and became human.


The pure Godhead is terrible to behold; we could not see it and live; but clothing Himself with our flesh, makes the Divine nature more amiable and delightful to us. Now we need not be afraid to look upon God, seeing Him through Christ’s human nature. It was a custom of old among the shepherds, they were wont to clothe themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the Divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ’s humanity, we may behold the light of the Deity shining.


God is totally different than us (Transcendence) yet He is similar (Immanence).  Because of this we are invited into a friend relationship with Him.


The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain (with God) and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 4


There are fifty-nine “one another” commandments in the Bible each requiring relationships for fulfillment.  In your Life Group you have relationships in which to learn, practice and grow in these “one anothers.”

Relationship with God is possible because God has first chosen you.


16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16


S. Lewis points out God’s choosing does not stop there.


“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


If C.S. Lewis is correct, those in MCA Church are chosen by God each for the other.


May God grant us the faith to put  on what is necessary to celebrate the similarities and embrace the differences as we move into the vast space between ourselves and others because it is there we do our best work and live our best lives.


What might the Apostle Paul put on and taken off for the sake of ministry relationship with the Corinthian people?


19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.  1 Corinthians 9:19-23