Beyond My Experience

Of all the billions of people in the world, each one of us is unique. Far deeper than fingerprints, appearance, or even personality traits, every person has a special story to live, and a personal relationship with God.

I forget this sometimes. It’s easy to expect others to be just like me – to laugh when I laugh, cry when I cry, to think as I do. If I am not careful, I may project onto others my own struggles and journey, my own personal relationship with the Creator.

Sometimes, we do this collectively, too. In our congregations and denominations, it can be tempting to judge the world according to our own standards, experience and traditions. At times, we may mistake God’s unique relationship with us for universal truth. Maybe we get fixated on our worship format, committee structures, theological statements or the work we do in the world; whatever the case, we project our own, special calling onto others. At worst, we may expect others to think and behave just like us before we acknowledge their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

How often we make our faith about us, rather than about him! When we were lost in darkness and despair, Jesus spoke to our hearts and brought us into the light. He turned our lives upside down in the most amazing way. Yet, he did this without robbing us of our God-given individuality. On the contrary, his healing touch has made us more truly ourselves than ever before. Thanks to him, we are becoming the people God created us to be – a diverse humanity united in the Holy Spirit.

Rather than assume that everyone must have the same relationship with Jesus that I do, what if I took a step back and marveled at the rich tapestry God is weaving? Rather than seeking to make everyone the same, are my eyes open to the ways that Christ is expressing himself through difference – in personality, culture, tradition and generations? Will I choose to embrace the New Creation, even when it goes beyond my experience?