Romans 15:5-7 (New International Version)
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
I have a real love for "ice cream" and anything to do with it. I love cones, sandwiches, sundaes, sodas, etc. Actually, you name it; I will eat it. Especially if it has chocolate and or peanut butter in it somewhere! As I was eating my ice cream tonight it reminded me of something I once read.
The first ice cream was vanilla, per-se, with fruit or nuts added to it. It was nothing more than frozen snow actually. Time and the inventive nature of man created our well-loved delectable flavors of today. We have gone from Vanilla, to an extraordinary array of flavors and added ingredients. They put, candy, nuts, cookie dough, cookies, syrup, fruit, or whatever you can imagine into ice cream today. Then add up all the crazy flavors out there. Vanilla is only one; there is chocolate, strawberry, coffee, butter pecan etc. The list goes on and on. Now add the extras to the flavors, and you have an endless supply of wild treats to tantalize the pallet. That my dear sweet Beloved is us!
God started out with one flavor. He produced it very carefully. Full of flavor and body. Then He realized it was lonely, so He created another flavor to complement the first. As time went on, the flavors became increasingly diversified, and so did the added ingredients. Now, I, just like so many others, tend to have preferences as to the flavors I will try. I am open to some stuff, and willing to try new taste experiences, as long as they are not too extreme. Problem with that is, I do not always have the best taste bud experiences I really could have. By picking and choosing the "right" flavor and additives, I narrow myself to only certain savory tastes. I actually cheat myself, so to say, of all that God has for me. If I don’t like the way something looks or smells, I will not even try it. Later I may find it was an exquisite flavor that I missed out on.
Once in a while, I’ll have the chance to try it again. Usually I will the second time, if only out of curiosity. Most times, I find it is wonderful, and I kick myself for being afraid to try it sooner. Hey, the thought of "bubble gum" in my ice cream did not thrill me, but the taste I found was wonderful, once I got past the eye gate to the mouth gate. Well friends, we are all ice cream that God has created. Some may be plain vanilla, but to God, they are "Primo," deluxe vanilla!
I think the main thing we need to keep in mind is that no one is the same flavor. No one. We all have different things added to us or mixed into us. However, we all started from the same source. If we turn to the chocolate and say, "I am not about to accept that flavor at all," we rob ourselves of the wonderful diversity/unity of the body of Christ. If God had wanted us to all be Vanilla, we would have. However, He choose to produce many varieties and flavors throughout the body, to give us each, a taste of the wonderful variety, of another’s different flavor. It is the differences that make us unique and so wonderful. The differences of opinions and ideas. The differences in speech and actions. The differences in personalities, colors, backgrounds, and heritage, are what make us strong, not weak. We are all of the same Spirit.
Next time somebody rubs you the wrong way, or acts differently, try to keep ice cream in mind. God made that flavor just the way it is! It has no right to try to be any other flavor or mixture. In addition, we have no right to try to add our own ingredients to it, to "improve" its taste. Let’s welcome the differences and flavors of each other as God intended us to be. Maybe if we do, we just might finally come to that "Unity" of the Spirit that God so wanted us to attain.
Dear Lord we thank you for ice cream and the lessons we can learn from it. Help us to accept the differences in others knowing that God made us each special. In Jesus’ name, Amen.