This week I saw something for the first time that I’ve witnessed hundreds of times before in my life. I was driving on a two-lane highway for at least 8 miles through farm country in front of a man on a motorcycle. Apparently this route is taken by motorcyclists with great frequency because I saw several signs along the way warning me to watch out for motorcycles. The signs were not wrong because I passed at least 20 bikers going the other way. At one point, I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed the biker behind me lift his hand in acknowledgment, waving at the biker passing in the opposite lane and the other biker waving back. It caught my attention. Every single time an oncoming biker passed, they acknowledged each other with a slight wave.
I see bikers do this all the time when I’m driving around my own community, but I never really consciously saw it until I saw it repeated 20 times in a relatively short distance. It got me to thinking. Bikers do this all the time. I’ve never seen two motorcyclists pass each other when they didn’t do this. And it doesn’t matter what brand of bike they are riding, how they’re dressed, or how decked out their bike is. Even though they have never met, there is a bond between them that compels them to greet each other, ignoring the differences because, after all, they are bikers together in a world of four-wheeled vehicle drivers who act like they own the road.
I started thinking about what the world would be like if those who call themselves Christians behaved a little more like the bikers I saw today. We have the strongest common bond there is –Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and yet we spend too much time comparing and finding fault with each other’s dogma and doctrines and not enough time acknowledging and treating each other as equals and even less time working together to spread God’s love, care, and gospel of grace and forgiveness. In God’s eyes, we are family but we treat each other like rivals. Too many of us devote our time dissecting one another’s religion, pointing out their “faulty” interpretations; their “misguided” civil, moral, and scriptural focus; and their “foreign” traditions and worship styles instead of examining our own hearts, seeking God’s will in our lives and stepping out of our comfort zone to follow Christ. God created each of us uniquely diverse. It stands to reason that we would bring that diversity to our relationship with God and in our worship of God. Like a light shining through an exquisite gem with many facets, we are meant to reflect God’s glory into the world around us. If we would only stop insisting ours is the only correct facet to view God’s majesty and grace through, the world would be overcome with the sparkling reflections of his glory shining all around them.
I was raised in a different religious tradition than the one God has me in today and for a long time, I was one of those people always comparing where my new religious tradition was right and my childhood one was wrong. My whole family remains faithful to Jesus in that religious tradition, so I had a very good reason for rising above my “nitpicking” judgmental comparisons and finding a way to see the beauty of their traditions, beliefs and practices. Over time, the Lord showed me that when we stopped comparing what we believe, how we worship, and our differing interpretations of certain scriptures and instead shared how God was working in us and through us and encouraged each other in our individual discipleships, we were choosing to focus on our common bond and were then able to appreciate each other even though we didn’t see eye to eye some things. It’s not easy sometimes. They say some things that make my insides scream, “That’s so wrong!!!” and I’m sure I do the same thing to them but we choose to love each other while respecting our differences. What I hope the world around us sees in us is our mutual love for God even among our differences.