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A thought: The difference

I’m looking out my study window this morning. The grass is green. The birds are flying from branch to branch. The robins are hopping on the grass to find lunch. What I see is not unusual. The neighbors can also look out their windows and see the same things.

Although we see and perceive the same things, we may evaluate and interpret them differently. Yet we are the same. Each of us is a human with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to sustain life. We eat. We sleep. We have friends, even if they are not the same friends. In many ways we are all the same.

Of course, some things make us different. Our families are not the same. A look around the neighborhood tells me that some houses are more elaborate than others and some have multiple cars in the driveway and garage. There are differences. But there still is a core of sameness.

On Sunday morning, I can notice a difference. When I back my car down the driveway to travel to church, the neighborhood is quiet. It’s not that I’m up at sunrise. During the pandemic, Sunday morning church is hours after sunrise. Before we could attend services, we watched services from our couch. The car stayed in the garage. Who could notice a difference?

There is one more difference that is not visible from the window. Like all Christians, I know that I am forgiven.

So as I watch a family walk down the street with a new puppy, I wonder, What is it that makes me different? It’s often hard to see how a Christian is different. From the window of every house we all look the same. We essentially are all the same. Size, race, and age are like the clothes we wear or the house we live in. They don’t change the fact that we are all humans. The differences we see are often not essential.

One big difference, however, is how we perceive ourselves. I see being human as more than eyes, ears, heart, and families. A careful look at the world around me tells me that humans are flawed and imperfect. I can see that and hear that. We excuse the faults of others and hope they will overlook ours. In spite of that, we are all human and are the same in one dark and sometimes hidden way—we are imperfect and sinners.

What’s different is that some refuse to understand that and others—me included—anguish over our imperfections, weaknesses, and sins.

There is one more difference that is not visible from the window. Like all Christians, I know that I am forgiven. My sins are covered by the perfection, strength, and righteousness of Christ. I am a child of God—a flawed human who is adopted by God’s love and mercy.

That then makes me different in other ways. We all suffer from viruses, pain, discomfort, disappointment, and everything else that is normal for humans. But Christians understand that they are loved by God through it all. We don’t just wait for all our troubles to be over. We endure patiently, knowing that our loving God controls all things for our good—even the course of national and international history.

All humans will come to the end of their lives here. It will happen to everyone I see out my window—the bike riders, the walkers, the children, and those who are walking their dogs. But Christians are not panic-stricken by that thought. The One who loves all humanity also has promised victory over that common human event.

He is risen. That hope sustains us all as Christians in every kind of chaos, disappointment, and frustration.

Author: John A. Braun
Volume 107, Number 09
Issue: September 2020

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