A friend of mine in our high school years had two words he used repeatedly. A couple of others may be discussing an issue like Coke vs Pepsi and ask him to choose. He would reply, “I don’t know . . . same difference.” “Same difference,” what does that even mean?
In July of 2022, Amy and I took a road trip across the United States from Alabama to California and back. During that trip we were in parts of ten different states and three time zones. Coming from what some consider to be a less desirable part of the United States and specifically a state that many choose to put down and then turn up their noses, we went wondering what we would see and experience. The following list is from notes I took on our 5,000 mile road trip.
- Every state had trailer parks (mobile home neighborhoods).
- We met nice people in every state. One man in New Mexico talked about how proud he was of his son, a rising Country Music Artist. A man who was about to have his 91st birthday talked to us about faith in God.
- We had good food and were disappointed in food as we traveled.
- Children acted like children we saw misbehavior in every state.
- We also encountered rude people, many of them drivers, in each state.
- Pets run households everywhere.
- We saw Trump Flags and Biden Signs in fields all the way to California.
- Every state had urban areas and rural areas. And wealth and poverty were obvious everywhere.
- There were uniquely named towns in every state.
- Along I-40 and Route 66 every state had goofy roadside attractions.
- Cattle are everywhere.
- We did experience differences. There were different landscapes and heard different accents. And in some places, they did not have sweet tea!
Once a lawyer trying to justify his prejudice asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus would tell the parable about being neighborly to everyone. I notice when I watch small children that they look for what they have in common, they do not look for differences. I think that begins to change when we approach our second decade of life at 9 or 10 years old. Before that, children usually do not compare to discriminate but compare to find commonality. Jesus is taking us back to our early childhood.
Society, politics, neighborhoods, family, some churches, and Satan want us to see differences and then use those differences to demean and discriminate against all to bring about division and strife. God in Christ takes down the wall of hostility that divides and desires to bring peace and unite us into one family.
Let’s take off the lenses that expose our differences and let’s put on corrective lenses that help us see our similarities. Prejudice and discrimination are our enemy’s tools. Unity and love are the tools of the Savior. Can we drop the stones of accusation and stop hurling them at each other? Instead, can we remember that we all stand before God in need of the grace that is in Christ? Alabama . . . Mississippi . . . Tennessee . . . Arkansas . . . Oklahoma . . . Texas . . . New Mexico . . . Arizona . . . Nevada . . . California . . . Southerner . . . Westerner . . . Native American ancestry . . . European ancestry . . . Asian ancestry . . . Mexican ancestry . . . Middle Eastern ancestry . . . SAME DIFFERENCE!