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How deeply rooted are our differences

It starts at birth

The yellow pages of the phone book include several pages of Christian church listings. The joy of following Jesus Christ, our Savior, is the core of all these denominations. Yet, the story of ________ and ________ shows that the journey can be challenging. A look at the ways in which we make sense of the world offers a perspective on these challenges.

Even babies categorize the world!

Psychologist Carolyn Rovee-Collier has studied how infants make sense of the world. When 3-month-olds were presented with mobiles consisting of alphabet blocks with a bold letter A, they soon learned how to kick to make those blocks dance above them. Later, when the mobiles were changed to blocks with a number 2, the babies didn’t kick as much. Kicking was associated with a particular category of blocks (straight lines forming an A rather than the curved line that forms a 2). In addition to cognitive categorization of objects, as children approach their first birthdays it is easy to notice how they make social categorizations of people. Moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, friends and close relatives are “my people” to the toddler. They are greeted with smiles and giggles and sought out for comfort when learning to walk has led to a tough fall. On the other hand, if you aren’t a familiar person to the child, even if you are a close relative, then you are in the “strange people” category. Wary eyes will follow your approach and the toddler may scurry from you to seek comfort.

The ability to organize the world is a gift from God that is a part of our nature from our earliest years. But how we use this gift is important to our spiritual journey.

Making adjustments

Some situations fit the way we’ve categorized the world just fine. For example, on the seventh day we, as Christians, are called to Sabbath, to resting in the arms of our God. But many times we have to make adjustments. Once, while reading a story about autumn written by a first-grader, I noticed that under a drawing of swirling leaves she had written, “The leaves flewed in the wind.” She had learned that we add “-ed” to categorize a word as past tense. But she hadn’t realized that in the case of irregular verbs there are exceptions to the rule. Families that embrace the Christian faith from different denominations may need to make adjustments more frequently than other families. But the desire to let Christ’s livng word penetrate the heart of your relationship will lead to effective discernment.

Scripture for the Journey                   

“For you are great, O Lord, and do wondrous deeds;  and you alone are God. Teach me, Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth, single-hearted and revering your name. I will praise you with all my heart, glorify your name forever, Lord my God. (Psalm 86:10-12)

Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)