In light of the events happening today, I offer this perspective on tolerance in 2017 and beyond.
I read Wild and Free from Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan last year (HERE) and chapter 9 is quiet literally the bees knees. I would read a whole book devoted to the topics that Jess brings up. I also can’t tell if Zondervan made it extremely gray for the sake of everyone forming their own opinion or if Jess really is the muddled in the topic.
But what I can tell you is her definition on living a tolerant and still loving lifestyle is something EVERYONE should read. In it Connolly, describes two camps of the Christian culture present currently. One side believes they cannot or should not tolerate the community around them walking in a way that is counter to their beliefs. The second is tired of hurting the rest of the world with the judgement and the feeling of less than that the Christian community has wounded the world with.
Now, I admit to being a bit on the second side of this issue she talks about in their book, but this statement:
Sometimes it’s hard to see what makes this camp [the second camp] as being compelled and controlled by the love of God.
This statement is totally off. (I actually crossed it out in my book)
I admit, I hate how judgmental, hateful, and hurtful the christian evangelical community [group 1] comes across, we all should. I also hate being seen as a “liberal christian unwilling to spread the good news that Christ offers”. (It’s in quotes because this has been said to me before.)
I don’t tell my barista, yoga instructor, or Trader Joe’s cashier they are going to hell unless they follow Jesus because I believe my lifestyle should do most of the talking for me. I want to be physically available for those around me to feel comfortable enough to share their troubles, and in that moment be present fully to them. I want to be kind, gentle, patient, graceful, thankful, a joy to be around. If that means praying over them, sharing the gospel or simply walking with them through a hard time which ends in sharing the gospel or a prayer or an invite to church then I’m game.
So, what compels this group that doesn’t want to ‘cast judgement’ and ‘hear the individual stories and experiences than make blanket assumptions’ the people around them, the love that Jesus did the same thing.
My filter is: Is it loving? Who did Jesus get mad at? Who did He argue with?
Again the definition of tolerance:
A fair, objective and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. Interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., foreign from one’s own. The act or capacity of enduring.
Tolerance is seeing people fairly, objectively, permissively.
I don’t need to pass out tracts to people 24/7. (Seriously, has this ever worked?) I believe in creating meaningful relationships, living a purpose filled life.
Think quality over quantity.
And in doing so some people will wonder why is she/he different? Why is she/he joyful in a time of suffering? To live the gospel is to have the Holy Spirit abide within you and you in it. To see people as Christ sees them. As his children, his flawed and imperfect children in a sinful world that is pulling at them from every. single. direction.
There is tension in tolerance, but the amazing news is that our Father thrives in human tension.
God’s amazing love, grace, and forgiveness shows up in so many unexpected ways. I remember a few years ago when a kid came out as gay to his family and recorded the incident. They kicked him out immediatly that night with no where to go. This family that knew him since the day he was born could not have a fair open attitude to who their son was, and yet when he posted the video online, people from all over the US helped him. Provided him with shelter and supported him. That. That is the grace and love of Christ. When people love you no questions asked.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. -Matthew 10:29-31
Gay, Straight, Black, White, Asian, blonde hair, black hair, living in an apartment in California, a house in Tennessee, or a refugee from war torn Syria relocated in San Diego, slave or free we are all made equal in the sight of God.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. -Galatians 3:27-29 ESV
You don’t have to agree with me. I know a lot of people don’t. But spewing hatred and hurt to those who don’t look like you, live like you, or pray to God the way you do: do not deserve the judgement, or the blanket assumptions that the evangelical community have typecast us (the second camp), Muslims, Refugees, Immigrants, LGBTQ community, and all other Minorities for.
Remember Jesus ate with tax collectors, spared adulators, and hung out with the lepors. He converted Saul, a man hell bent on killing off the Christian church, into one of the most articulate writers of the faith. A man who died in prison for a faith he proclaimed to abolish.
May we go out into the world today and see the world as you see it, love those within it and remember above all else that you created each and everyone of us. We are all made in your image and it is our sole (and soul) job in this world to love one another, although we maybe different and our leaders spew hate from their pulpits. Remind us to love our neighbors & our enemies, to surround those around us in opportunities to flaunt your grace & may we be grateful for all you have given us.
I challenge you to love someone that is hard to love.