Tolerance

“I’ve been finding lately that the more forgiving people and the more understanding people and the more non-judgmental people are non-Christians. No wonder why Jesus loved to hang out with sinners.”

A dear friend told me this the other day and it breaks my heart…mainly because I know that often times it is true…and it never should be. This feeling is becoming disturbingly common in the world of young Christians. Somewhere there is a disconnect, between the love Jesus showed and the love his followers show.

Our society is being galvanized into being accepting of everything based on the wrong hateful actions of a few. Tolerance has become our creed. Was Jesus tolerant?

Did he tolerate the woman at the well living with a man she wasn’t married to? No, he showed her the way to have eternal life, and she gladly followed him

Did he tolerate Zacchaeus being a thief? No but by showing him he was loved and worth something, Zaccheaus was moved to change his ways.

Did he tolerate the religious leaders looking down on the woman who washed his feet? No he told them that she loved him more, because she had been forgiven more.

Did he tolerate the stoning of a woman caught in sin? No he pointed out that all are sinners. Did he tolerate her sin? No, He forgave her and told her to “Go and sin no more”

Did he tolerate the moneychangers in the temple? No he threw them out, quite violently.

Jesus didn’t “tolerate” he was “full of grace and TRUTH”

Tolerance is not the answer, but neither is the knee jerk reaction against tolerance, which often turns into judgment.  “This action is wrong, and I have to prove to you why it is wrong.” Did Jesus have to prove anyone wrong? No.  He was full of truth and GRACE.

This last half seems to be the common action of people on both sides of any issue. While claiming to be tolerant, they judge the people on the other side. Instead of having loving conversations they throw out statements, that while they may true, are said is such a way that they pass judgment on the other side, in the “how dare you believe that” sort of way. This of course causes defensiveness from the other side, who then respond in kind. In our social media driven society this type of back and forth has become all to easy, we can put statements and opinions out there and never really have the conversations that need to come with them. We can make a statement and then laugh at the people who disagree with it, and call them uneducated, intolerant, or naïve. And by doing so we become just as bad as we say they are, as the saying goes the enemy doesn’t care which side of the horse you fall off of, he just cares that you fell off.

This isn’t just happening between Christians and non- Christians, it is happening between Christians, between families and friends. As the lyrics to the song Love Is All by Je’kob say “There’s thirty-eight thousand versions of Christian”. And everyone thinks that the way they see things is the only right way… Guess what? It’s probably not. We are all human and we can never live up to the example of perfect love that Jesus set, because, news flash, we aren’t perfect!  We are all lead astray at some point, by our good intentions, by some teaching that sounds good, by the pressures of society, by wanting an easy answer instead of the hard one. Everyone has walked their own hard road to arrive at where they are. But instead of trying to understand where the other person is coming from, and showing them the truth in love; we snipe at them from our tall tower, never realizing that we have just fallen off the other side of the horse

No one’s mind was ever changed by an argument on the Internet. But responding in love and understanding to someone we don’t see eye to eye with, can change minds and hearts. Responding to a post with a paragraph or two about how God loves someone, and the only way to solve anything is with a personal relationship with Jesus, is not going to win hearts; it may be the truth, but the only way anyone is going to believe that is by YOU having a personal relationship with them first that shows them that this is true. Only by loving our neighbors AND our enemies and by loving God so much that his love spills out of us in ways that can’t be ignored are we ever going to make a difference in this crazy messed up world.

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Honor

Honor is a funny word (if you look at it too many times it starts to look really strange…believe me I just did). It isn’t something we think about much and until last week I wouldn’t have really used that word much in conjunction with myself. But I am going through a Beth Moore Bible study (David: Seeking a Heart Like His) and Beth has a funny way of pulling things out and saying stuff that hits home on things you didn’t really even know were there. I had one of those moments during last week’s video.

We were looking at Psalm 62, a song that was written by David as he is hiding out, because Saul is trying to kill him. Verse 7 says “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” Now I would look at that and say, “Great! salvation, rock, refuge! “ But what she pulled out was honor. The point she had was this “Significant rest comes to the soul when we accept that God alone is in charge of our honor. God does not just defend our honor. He defines it.”

Let’s define what honor means before we go on.  The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it in the following ways:

• high respect; esteem : his portrait hangs in the place of honor.

• a person or thing that brings credit : you are an honor to our profession.

• adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct : I must as a matter of honor avoid any taint of dishonesty

Honor applies to the respect others have for us, to doing things well, and doing things in a moral, upright manner. Basically I see it as your reputation. So God is in charge of our reputation, he defends it and defines it. It is his standard we have to live up to when it comes to getting respect, doing the best we can and most of all, the moral standard we live by. As she was discussing this point it really hit home with me. I have been worrying about what someone else will think of me, when and if a hypothetical situation comes to pass. (Now isn’t that just typical, worrying about what someone else will think about something that hasn’t even happened.) And it hit me right then, that it doesn’t really matter what they think, what matters is what God thinks. If I am looking to him for guidance, and not just stepping out on my own, I am good. I don’t need to worry about my reputation or my honor. He has it covered! In fact he is the one who defines it

After I felt a great deal of relief from that realization. I had another situation actually happen, because of course when God wants you to get something, he doesn’t just let you apply it to a hypothetical situation, the rubber has to hit the road.  I overheard someone explaining a situation to an acquaintance. This situation very much effects my reputation (or honor) and was not explained in an accurate or truthful manner. My gut wanted to correct the facts on the spot, but I held myself back. Later that night I was contemplating how I could set the record straight (without, of course, appearing neurotic), when up in my head popped this little voice saying “God is in charge of your honor. “ Isn’t that the way it always goes, we sit here planning and scheming, and God is just sitting up there waiting for us to realize…HE’S GOT THIS TOO!

So, I don’t need to set the record straight. If it is important for this person to know the truth, the time will come for it to be told. But I don’t need to run around defending myself. God is much bigger and stronger than me; I think I can safely leave the job of defender in his hands. What a relief!