What is tolerance?
Tolerance was once “putting up with” something even though it may not be preferred.
Dictionary.com defines tolerance as: “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”
Today, society has a much different opinion of what tolerance is. If someone is not in agreement with something, it is okay for them to personally choose not to do it, but it is not okay to tell anyone else not to.
Truth About Tolerance
A cornerstone of the faith for a Christian is the Holy Bible. We believe this book as a pillar of our faith, held up as objective truth and the final authority for all issues.
This often runs in direct conflict with what society says about various issues covered in the Holy Bible. When Christians stand up for these beliefs, they often face criticism.
The fact that groups who call themselves “christians” and take on traditional Christian labels while spreading hate filled messages does not help. Especially when they call for and receive media attention for their efforts.
What is love?
Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Love endures all things, it does not say it promotes all things. It does not say it endorses all things. It endures all things.
Cultural (In) Tolerance
One of the biggest issues today revolves around sexual preferences, and specifically homosexuality. Where Christianity calls this lifestyle a sin, cultural tolerance calls for more than a tolerant attitude toward those who practice this “lifestyle”.
Cultural tolerance asks everyone to vacate their beliefs when it comes to others and accept a relative view of truth. It promotes the idea that people should decide for themselves what is right and wrong.
We are called to love and forgive while being kind and gentle. The book of Ephesians continually calls for this positions from followers of Christ.
Kindness and gentleness
I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds [us].Ephesians 4:1-3 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.Ephesians 4:32 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Anger and Grace
It is easy to feel anger towards a group of people who seemingly flaunt their sin in the face of God and Christianity. We must at all times remember who we are and the grace Christ gave us as he sacrificed himself on the cross.
Just as Christ forgave us our sins, so we should to extend that grace to others. Jesus was a friend of sinners, hanging out with some of the most despised people of his day.
The Hebrew nation hated prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus had these groups in his inner circle. He forgave a Samaritan woman and healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter. These were two groups that were enemies of God’s people (Hebrews).
Love and Respect
We must learn to love and respect those who differ from us. Even more so, we must be kind and gentle to those who willingly sin and flaunt their discretion in front of God.
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must [forgive].Colossians 3:12-13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
If we fail to do this, we not only willingly disobey God’s word, but we create another layer to the barrier put up between the modern culture and Christianity.
In The World, Not Of The World
While called to be set apart from the world, Jesus also commanded we carry His message to the world. We must exhibit the true definition of tolerance through love, patience, and understanding.