A Reasoned Faith

Tolerance and being Unashamed

“Religion is like a pair of shoes…Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” ― George Carlin

I thought I would start with a quote related to tolerance as a warm up to this subject matter. Should what we believe not be proclaimed as exclusive or ‘right’? Does tolerance mean that whatever we believe individually should not be examined, debated, challenged? Wouldn’t that be intolerant though, to refuse to let our own views be questioned? Is Christianity intolerant?

It must be considered that the content of what we believe, if it is something really worth living by, ought to be shared! If we care enough about others and their spiritual destiny, why keep it to ourselves? Isn’t that a bit selfish, to not want to share something that’s of benefit? There are some groups who speak out loud and clear about what they believe should be heard! Yet those very same groups who may speak of tolerance, can be found to be intolerant of the Christian worldview… ‘The Tolerant’ are not so tolerant when it comes to moral boundaries and a Creator we probably should humble ourselves before.

The early church community, after Christ’s ascension, began to experience considerable opposition to their way of life and proclamation of salvation in Christ Jesus. The loving, sinless, gracious Saviour who walked this earth was not received by all, and neither were His followers, even today. Why?

Self-righteousness. Complacency. Laziness. Anger. Disillusionment. Tradition. Intolerance of having one’s comfort zone disturbed. These are all some real reasons why some resist the message of the gospel of Christ. But if something is worth believing, if there really is an objective standard of truth, then the Christian should risk being called ‘intolerant’ in order to seek to win others to the faith. At the same time, it is not a faith that is to be forced on others. The Lord Jesus Christ is our exemplar.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16 The Bible

The purpose of our proclamation is the hope that the hearers (and observers of how we live) may come to the One who suffered for the sins of the world. God is love. But this is not the woolly, relativistic ‘love’ that the liberals may declare – a type of love with no boundaries on propriety… a kind of reckless ‘love’ that doesn’t consider consequences. The Bible shows us that this Divine Love is purposeful and committed to our welfare.

“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” ― Thomas Mann

It’s interesting that sometimes a non-religious viewpoint such as this quote, can actually be close to truth. Tolerance can indeed be gravely misapplied… if, in the name of ‘tolerance’, it is viewed as simply ‘freedom of expression’ when people start a riot and set fire to someone’s business because of ‘racism in the police force’, or excusing of aggression towards those who lobby against abortion of babies, or even excusing killing in the name of religious supremacy. If attacking those who have a different opinion, or seeking revenge on injustices in an imperfect system, is seen as ok because we are free to express what we feel, then there is something wrong with that worldview… because tolerance of violence and acts of bitter vengeance actually shows the lack of an objective moral foundation. Believe it or not, there are some out there who wouldn’t say that what Hitler did was wrong.

So what do you, the reader, stand for? Does your employer or your next door neighbour know what you believe? Does your work ethic and your neighbourly attitude stand out as different from the rest? Someone around us needs the ‘intolerant’ life-giving message that there is one way of salvation, and whoever is willing to believe may have a blessed eternal life with our Maker, and peace and joy in Christ in the here and now despite trials.

Like those first ‘sent ones’ of the early faith community, let’s be willing to risk expressing why the Saviour Jesus is the only way of redemption for sinners – without self-righteousness or being deliberately offensive – but with the love of Christ.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.

1 Corinthians 9:19, the Bible

The writer of the above committed his life to the One who said…

And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:27‭-‬28, the Bible

With the servant heart of Christ, we can show others that the ‘narrow way’ of following Him will lead us to God’s best, which is far greater than what we think is ‘good enough’ in the name of tolerance.

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