This afternoon I went inside a little party supply shop down the street. I needed to purchase a dozen balloons for our recruitment today at the local grade school for the summer camps that next week’s Vacation to L.A. team will host. As I walked up and down the two cramped aisles of the tiny store while my balloons were being filled, I was struck by how our cultures differ so much in the ways we decorate, the kinds of gifts we give, etc. This store was filled with things I would simply never think to buy, and yet they are the total norm here among a large portion of my community.
It made me think about the ways that being a part of a multi-cultural (race and class) church is really hard. As petty as my party store observations felt, I realized that they underscore the much larger truth that cultures differ deeply, and few of us seem to really know what it means to lay our attachments to certain things aside and allow things to look and feel the way of the other.
Whether it is a worship service, a children’s program, a facility, or a sermon, we all have our opinions about how things should look and be done, and I have seen how differing over the small things can truly have the power to divide. When I think about the command to “love your neighbor as yourself”, I think about how I elevate my opinions about what is “good” or “right” which, if I am honest, usually means “better than…” As committed as we can be to acts of service to others, when it boils down to our true opinions and judgments, we save the greatest portion of love for ourselves.