I live in one of the most culturally diverse communities in the world. More than half of the people living in my city were born in a different country. As someone who was born in Canada, is Christian, speaks English as his mother tongue and whose skin is only slightly darker than milk, I am truly a minority in my community.

The influx of many different cultures, languages, religions and food (my personal favorite!) is both a blessing and a potential threat to a country that already has a difficult time defining itself and its "native" culture.

** The following paragraph is for the benefit of non-Canadians; we who are Canadians already know this, but are often too embarrassed to admit it:
Ask someone who was born and raised in Canada, and they will likely struggle to describe the Canadian identity beyond hockey, beer, Tim Hortons coffee, and being much more polite than Americans while travelling abroad.

So it doesn't surprise me much when native Canadians get a little jealous and resentful of these other cultures, especially when they seem to have a much stronger identity, bond and community presence. Sometimes it hurts to see foreigners quickly establish themselves and flourish in your environment while you've perhaps taken it for granted and missed opportunities that were right under your nose.

A new hospital is opening this month in my city. In July the local Sikh community organized an Akhand Paath at the hospital, for the hospital. It was a well-publicized and well-attended two-day event featuring continuous recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, from beginning to end.

As news spread of the upcoming Paath, some neighborhood Christians became upset that the Sikhs were allowed to hold such an event. Some felt that it should not be allowed. Some focused a significant amount of time and energy working and arguing against it.

Now, I can't very often claim to be a clear thinker or a stellar example of Christian conduct, but I think I got it right this time. My first reaction was to applaud the Sikh community for their expression of faith and concern for their community, and the hospital for their openness to allow people of faith to pray within their walls.

My second reaction was to call the hospital to see if they would be willing to host a similar event for the Christian community. Lo and behold, they were very receptive to the idea.

So, was the Akhand Paath a reason to get upset, or a reason to get inspired? Was it something to fight against, or something to emulate? Would the Sikhs be more receptive to Christians and Christianity if they were treated with contempt, or with admiration and love?

Ask yourself...

  • What successes of other people, businesses, teams, countries, cultures or religions upset me?
  • Why do they upset me?
  • What might I learn and apply from them?
  • What other opportunities do they reveal?
  • Is my energy better spent trying to bash the perceived "problem" or working toward a "solution"?

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. - 2 Timothy 2:24-25

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. - Colossians 4:5-6

Author's Bio: 

Humorist Will Rogers once observed, "There are three kinds of men - ones that learn by reading, a few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves."

Though he has never braved a real electric fence, Larry understands the above metaphor all too well. His life is more a series of clumsy learning experiences than a polished "how-to" manual.

Remarkably, God has called Larry to share these slices of imperfection and accumulated wisdom with readers from over thirty countries around the world - those fortunate souls who prefer to learn through reading and observation.

Larry's first book, Get the Prize, was published in 2003. He is currently writing his second book, expected to be released in 2010.

He lives in Canada with his wife and four children.

Click here to visit larryhehn.com