It is not our differences that divide us, but our judgements about each other that do. God's intention for the Israelites was He would govern them through the prophets and judges yet they didn’t want to be different and stand out against the other nations, who

Differences should not divide

were ruled by kings (1 Sam 8:5-22). Do I conform to the world's standards and compromise my values, so I don’t appear to be different? Especially in the teenage years when the youth are trying to find their feet in the adult world peer pressure of what others think is a powerful snare. While no one likes to be considered the odd one out, the Bible's message to us is, "Live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phil 1:27). Many times this requires we "Obey God rather than men" (Act 5:29)

Saul was told, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power…and you will be changed into a different person” (1 Sam 10:6). In contrast to the normal crowd we will stand out by our devotion to the Lord, which will have a bearing on His outflow from our life and the impact we have in the world. By spending time with God, Moses was a changed man and people saw the difference (Ex 34:28-35).  As a result of our relationsipwith the Lord and commitment to spiritual disciplines people should see a difference taking place in our lives. This is the result of "being with Jesus", and "not conforming to the world" and so “are being transformed into His likeness” (Act 4:13; Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18). This obvious discernable contrast that was attributed to having been impacted and transformed by the power of God. Salvation will make a difference to our behaviour, thoughts and words. Sometimes these changes happen quickly, other times the transformation is a slow, hard process requiring much effort. 

As Christians our lifestyle, values and goals should be different to those outside of Christ; our future destiny certainly will be (Gal 5:19-24, 6:8; 1 Pet 4:2). Am I distinguishable from those who don’t know Christ? Is my life noticeably changing now I know Christ and living in relationship with Him? Eternity will reveal the distiction between the righteous who serve God and the wicked who do not serve Him (Mal 3:18).

There will be diverse opinions in every aspect of life – this calls for tolerance with the appreciation of others viewpoints and beliefs. However, there should be unity in essentials or absolutes that are clearly outlined in Scripture yet liberty or choice in non-essentials allowing for personal preference and tastes with love shown to all. While there

In which areas is my life different now I know Christ?

can be differing interpretations of various Bible passages, especially if they are taken out of context, a consensus can normally be reached by the overall teaching and principles of Scripture with other verses bringing clarity and a fuller understanding. Yet, sometimes we just have to agree to differ with other believers, whilst continuing to work together for the sake of the Kingdom.

Paul's strong statement was if someone taught a different gospel to what had been shared it was not the truth and so should not be embraced (2 Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-11). He was adamant what he shared was from the Lord and this gospel truth is now recorded in the Bible. It is our responsibility to check out all the teaching we receive to ensure it aligns with the Bible; if not reject it, for God's word is truth and the standard by which we will be judged (Jn 12:48, 17:17; Act 17:11). The Scriptures are to be the authority, not human reasoning or tradition. There are diverse pathways all claiming to lead to heaven, yet Jesus clearly stated, "I am the way...no one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6; Act 4:12). Eternity is too long to regret thinking we can come via a different pathway shunning the only legitimate route – salvation through Jesus Christ.

There is a diversity of practical abilities and spiritual gifts given to the church; they don’t compete against the others but work together to build up the body of Christ (Rom 12:6-8; Eph 4:11,12).

Regardless of the physical, cultural and social differences all true believers are one in Christ – all cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus and spend eternity in heaven together (Gal 3:28). So rather than focusing on the differences that will lead to isolation

In spite of...we are all one in Christ

and possible discrimination, accentuate and reinforce what you have in common. The Bible instructs us to "Show proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers" (1 Pet 2:17).

See also: ability, change, compromise, conflict, contrast, controversial issues, non-negotiable, peer pressure, spiritual gifts, tolerate, transform/transformation, unity, variety.