Paint by Number

masterpieceDo not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. (Romans 2:2, 4-5)

Ponder It.
When have you given or received confusing directions?
How well do you usually follow instructions?
What is most challenging to you about being united and getting along with others?

Receive It.
We all need direction. That’s something that makes us all the same, but in that sameness, we are unique. If everyone was given the same paint by number project, we’d end up with a variety of results. Some would look very similar, but a closer examination would reveal some differences. We’d apply the paint in different order with various brush strokes. We might use slightly different paints and brushes that create differences. We’ll use different amounts of paint. We’ll hang them (or store them) in different places. Even when we try to be the same, we won’t have complete uniformity.

That’s okay, because life—and faith—isn’t about uniformity. It’s about unity in God’s will and conformity to Him. We live by the same standards, but we lead different lives. We have different struggles, personalities, and experiences. We have different relationships, abilities, and weaknesses. He knows the details of each of us, and He invites us to be unique in the ways He’s created us…but unified together for His purpose. He doesn’t want us to be the same with each other…just the same with Him. Of course, that means as we conform to Him, we will have many similarities. But we will never become drones that follow the exact same pattern of life.

When we get directions, we need to make sure the source is trustworthy. If we follow the instructions, will we be following God? If so, as we follow well, we have a lot of freedom. We don’t have to read more into the directions than are there. We don’t have to demand everyone else respond to the instructions in the exact same way that we do. We don’t need to copy or envy someone else’s work because we like it. We need to follow God and be creative. After all, He is creative, and He made us in His image.

Live It.
As you walk behind or sit with someone today, try to carry yourself, walk, sit, and gesture in the same way as him or her for at least one minute. How uncomfortable is it? Celebrate your differences as well as similarities. Thank God for your uniqueness.

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