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Vive La Difference

Vive La DifferenceDating that Delights God, Man and Woman!

You’re not like me
Do people who are different from you interest you, or intimidate you? Are you curious or afraid? One of the best things about being single in the kingdom of God is that we often rub shoulders with people who are different from us. The differences are many: culture, age, education, social and political attitudes and so on. Such variety is a tremendous opportunity for God to be honoured, and your life to be enriched. But only, my single brother or sister, if you dare to go on encouragement dates with people who are significantly different from yourself. Why do we sometimes find this difficult, and what do we do about it?

God of the nations
First, it helps to remember that God always planned for the human race to be varied. He knew that if Adam & Even obeyed his instruction to, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen 1:28 NIV), that the world would be filled with ‘different’ people. God told Abraham, “this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations” (Gen 17:4 NIV). It is said of Jesus that, “with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9 NIV). And in heaven we will worship with “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:9 NIV). If are we going to enjoy worshipping with people from every nation in heaven we had better get used to it here on earth! Why not get a foretaste of one of the most special delights of heaven by going on dates with ‘different’ people while here on earth?

Making “disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19)
Secondly, I am sure we all want to be more effective in our outreach. Jesus connected with all the people he came into contact with - no matter how different to him they were. He was equally at home with Jews, Gentiles, men, women, Israelite, Greek, old, young etc. He was able to socialise, to be spiritual and confrontational with anyone to meet their need (see John 4 and his conversation with the Samaritan as a great example). A key to his effectiveness in making disciples, sowing seeds and meeting needs was ‘connectivity’ with such a variety of people. For us to grow in this we must spend time with people from other backgrounds. Then we will learn to appreciate them, understand them, and how to connect with them. Do you want to be more effective in your outreach, single brothers and sisters? Then go on dates with disciples different from you, and you will be enriched, educated, inspired and made more effective in the great commission.

Navigating the Minefield
One reason we hesitate to build deeper relationships with people very different from us is fear we will offend the other person by accident. Cultural insensitivity is a real challenge. However, here are a few ideas as conversation-starters on dates with people ‘different’ to yourself:

“Tell me what you like/don’t like about your own culture/life-situation”
“How does your culture/background help/hinder you as a disciple?”
“What was it like growing up in your family/country?”
“How could I understand your culture/place in life better?”

I am sure you can think of more ideas. Send them to me if you like and I will include them in future articles. In the meantime, vive la difference! God made us different, so celebrate that on encouragement dates.

Malcolm Cox (Dec 2010)