So, blame this shocking event on John Shore, who wrote this blog post. On the surface, I was interested but the comments afterward got me thinking…….and combined with my own experience, I can say that the word “tolerance” has been a four letter word in most of my Christian circles. I have been taught by more than one Christian leader that tolerance equates to acceptance, which waters down my own faith in Christ. For example, if I tolerated someone who holds the Jewish faith, I would validate their view of denying Christ. Instead, I have been taught (by a few leaders) that to “prove” my faith, I need to at least attempt to share how their Jewish faith was wrong and leading them to death……in other words, NO TOLERANCE.
Now don’t get me wrong…….I hold a strong belief in Jesus Christ. I believe the Bible. But, I also think that there are many roads to evangelizing. And I would like to point out that TOLERANCE can – and in my opinion, DOES – mean something else all together.
For me, tolerance is allowing others to believe what they want. Tolerance is loving them (aka, your neighbor) even if they don’t deserve it. I believe it means treating them the same as the Christian to your left. And, once you maybe connect with them as a human being (aka, God’s creation) and perhaps SHOW them how powerful God is through your actions……like maybe “doing what Jesus would do” and all that. THEN, perhaps, they might even CONSIDER discussing religion with you. Because, let’s face it, if a non-Christian immediately went into a speech about how our faith was so wrong…..we would probably not be that receptive.
Or, I could be wrong. Maybe we should be more like this post…..after all, all Muslims are terrorists or something……not sure what exactly he is trying to say…..but here is my paraphrase: “I have my own dictionary, I can say what words really mean, and it’s okay for us to hate others and that doesn’t mean we are like those Taliban scum with their hatred of Christians, and btw they are going to kill you. And you should homeschool your kids.”
But really, and I am being sincere here – I am not being very tolerant of him now, am I? And that is the point. He – and everyone – have a RIGHT to think what they will. And I need to love him even if I think he’s irrational. I need to TOLERATE that I totally don’t agree with him, that his views are irrational, and let him live his life. In doing so, I have NOT diminished my own beliefs, nor have I given credence to his. Just like if I remained friends with my Jewish acquaintance and even asked about their life or discussed their theology, it wouldn’t negate my faith in Christ. And, while I HOPE to have a deep conversation about my own relationship with Christ, it’s really the Holy Spirit that will change a person’s heart anyway. You know?
And, really, what WOULD Jesus do? While I do not speak for Him, I do have His Word to reference. Actually, I am stealing this from a commenter on John’s blog:
“To say that Jesus condemned people who don’t believe in him sounds, to me, pretty presumptuous.
His recorded words in John (“no way to the Father except through me…”) seem simple enough when seen through the hermeneutical lens most Protestants have been taught since birth, but there are plenty of other ways to interpret that particular text.
And outside of John, the other gospels show the vast majority of Jesus’ examples with religious outsiders (tax collectors, hookers, Roman soldiers, adulterers, etc…) to end with love and grace, often with no strings attached.
We do see some of this in the book of John as well (the woman about to be stoned) — in this case Jesus specifically tells a convicted sinner “I do not condemn you” and sends her off, even though she never even asked for forgiveness!
Most of Jesus’ condemnation in the gospels is reserved for the religious folks who think they have it all figured out.”
Now, maybe things are too complicated to really come to a specific conclusion about everything, including the whole idea of tolerance. But I can know without a doubt that loving my neighbor – with no condition regarding their faith – is a direct quote from Christ. “Love your neighbor as yourself” NOT “Love your neighbor if they are a Christian, and don’t irritate you or otherwise mess up the world.”
And with that, no more thinking!