In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. (Acts 13:1)

MY YOUNG DAUGHTER bounced up to me with an accordion-folded paper and some scissors, and asked me to cut out a paper-doll chain, the kind where you carefully cut out the shape of a person then unfold to find a line of identical people holding hands.

Sometimes we expect God to make disciples the same way: exactly identical to us. We think the church would be so much better if everyone had the same ideas and passions for how to serve God, the same preferences in worship, and the same favorite spiritual disciplines.

In Acts we see a group of disciples that look almost nothing like each other. Barnabas was a Levite (Acts 4:36). Simeon, called Niger, most likely had a dark complexion, and his Latin nickname tells us that he mostly socialized with Romans. Lucius was from Cyrene, in Northern Africa, present-day Libya. Manaen had been raised in the royal court along with Herod Antipas, the same Herod who had Jesus on trial in Luke 23. Saul was a former Pharisee who had persecuted Christians. Despite their differences, this group of disciples came together to worship and fast. And the Holy Spirit responded with guidance and direction. When we come together in worship, our focus should not be on ourselves and our differences but on Jesus Christ, the Lord of all!

Let worship bring you together with Christians who are different from you.

Rachel Schmoyer is a mom of four and pastor’s wife who enjoys cooking from scratch with ingredients from a local organic farm.