In our culture it is sacrosanct to accept an individual’s preferences; the 1st amendment to the Constitution & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) enshrine freedom of conscience & thought. God Himself offers these also, but warns us that there are consequences for poor thinking. A survivor of t.b.m.c. asked me to write about the need for Christians to be able to accept survivors where they are at, instead of judging them if there are differences. It is interesting that individuals cut themselves slack & make excuses for their behavior, but refuse that for others. Likewise, most minority religious groups who receive tolerance are themselves intolerant. (For instance, the JWs have lambasted Catholics in Catholic nations for using the law to stop them, but when I as a Christian came to a Kingdom Hall, they physically assaulted me, threw me out, & called the police. Likewise, all these Moslems calling for tolerance, once they have the upper hand, will not be tolerant.) So what we have involved here is really a variety of moral & spiritual issues, & these issues face each one of us. This message is a look at those issues from the perspective of the Word of God & Christ’s example.
God works in the hearts of all men…”it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (A) This is true in spite of some organizations thinking they have a corner on God. How He works with each person is different “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”(B) (Just quickly, a few guideposts for the record: God does not tolerate everything, He does not have a permissive attitude, nor does He save men against their will.)
COME UNTO ME ALL YE WHO ARE WEARY (C) …Christ welcomed anyone who was tired of the status quo and wanted to be changed. Yahshua offered (& still offers) an open invitation to everyone, irrespective of who you are, what you believe or what you have done.(D) He made a habit of fellowshipping at meals with anyone, which greatly disturbed many people. “Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees [who functioned as both rulers & respected religious leaders] and the scribes were grumbling and saying,‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ “ (E) What Yahshua did was toleration. No way around it, it was toleration. And it was not unscriptural, for instance we are commanded on how to treat strange people, “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt”. (F) Of course one might argue like the Pharisees, that not upsetting (vexing) a stranger, does not mean one has to eat with them! In their culture, who you ate with was viewed as who you fellowshipped with…in their kosher society it was very important who you ate with.
SPIRITUAL GIVERS. We are called to be spiritual salesmen, bringing the good news to others. In order to communicate to others, Paul said he’d be all things to all men to win them.(G) Christ had an attitude of giving, & even at meals where he was not the host, he was still the spiritual host, dispensing spiritual gifts & spiritual food for those around him. And he had a winner’s attitude. He knew that a little match lights up an entire big room of darkness—and light does not fight to overpower darkness, it is naturally superior. So unlike so many then & now, he did not live in fear of evil. He did not assume that he would be defiled by associating with corrupt people. Rather, he knew his spirit of godliness would rub off on them & transform them for the better. Virtue is more powerful than immorality. The Spirit of God is more powerful than demons. We have ministers warning people to stay away from programmed multiples. What? This is clearly a spirit of fear that Christ did not display. Who has the more powerful God? Christ did not live in fear of numbers. People relinquish too much territory to the enemy. If one’s spirituality can’t handle it, then grow & mature where it can. Granted, a drug addict trying to reform himself needs to eat with safe people. Fear of the occult does not show wisdom, but weakness. In fact fear is the basis for worldly toleration. Speaking about what toleration is—it comes from the Latin “tolerare” meaning to bear with, and is present when you disapprove of something & then forebear it without suppressing it. Without any values or standards it is impossible to tolerate something.
CHRIST DID NOT ASK PEOPLE TO MAKE “DECISIONS” LIKE A BILLY GRAHAM CRUSADE. A rich successful young man runs up to Christ and with respect asks him, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”(H) Most today would be excited to bring such a well-to-do successful man into the congregation. This is an evangelist’s dream. Today a counselor would take him to an inquiry room, have him repeat a sinner’s prayer and add him to the Crusade’s statistics. Christ first rebukes him for his flattery (Christ himself had called men “good” –cf. MT 5:45—so it was not a sermon for people not to use the word, he had another purpose), and then Christ reminds the eager man of the law. But the young man is virtuous & has led a good life. Christ loved God even more than the young man’s soul, and he wanted to exalt God, not cater to the man’s wish to escape judgment. I will not go into further depth on this, but to let the reader think –why was Christ not more accepting of this eager young man??
TOLERANCE HAS LIMITS. Toleration has limits no matter where you are. Christ’s toleration of sinners had no resemblance to today’s “Everything is cool, nothing bothers me; we need to embrace diversity, and never challenge what others do.” His was not the diversity of “there is no one truth man”. If you don’t stand for something, you have no identity, no values, and no truth. So Yahshua found it necessary to say, “You serpents, you brood of vipers!” No live & let live here! Tolerance has its limits, even within the Body of Christ. Those who are divisive antagonistic troublemakers, you know the kind that thrive on destructive unhealthy conflict, like the serpents Christ called a “brood of vipers”,(I) the Word says, “As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice…self-condemned.”(J)
BROTHER, YOU MAY BE RIGHT. Some will disagree over anything, & even if confronted with different information will not listen. Left within a congregation, such troublemakers devour good pastors like wolves, and enjoy creating congregational splits. No accommodation suffices for their insatiable demands. These troublemakers wipe out a sense of the presence of God’s love & Spirit. As divisive troublemakers are so prevalent & unfortunately tolerated (!) here is one more Scripture: “I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them.”(K) This does not mean all conflict & disagreement is unhealthy—actually most disagreements are probably healthy.
WHERE DOES TOLERATION CEASE BEING GOOD? In philosophical discussions about tolerance, the boundary where tolerance should stop is when it harms & hurts others or sets back other’s interest. The Orthodox Church in Bulgaria labeled a gay pride parade as “a harmful demonstration”. If militant gay pride can be predicted to cause mental anguish in other’s, then philosophically it has passed the point of being tolerable. For Target to allow a small % of transgenders & predators to upset the privacy of most of its customers is flipping tolerance on its head. The moral philosophers have said the anguish caused to the greater group should stop the toleration. And it is a common value that the right of self-preservation supercedes the principle of tolerance. Godly people have concerns that a modern Sodom & Gomorrah culture will bring the same level of divine judgment as before. Modern PC toleration holds that not only should one respect other ideas, I have to accept other views as equally true, even if they contradict mine. At this pt. truth no longer matters. This is a perfect attitude for mind control programmers. You no longer have any legitimate principles or values. But Christ’s meals with sinners were not a celebration of diversity. He had definite principles. He was not passive about evil. He did challenge opinions.
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Christ’s love was not “I will love you IF…” In fact, he made love the bench mark of being his follower. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”’ (L) But you will notice that Yahshua never used the rumor mills to criticize people. We are warned in Scripture not to be squeezed into the world’s mold of slander, strife, backbiting & hatred.(M) He avoided godless chatter.(N) He warned that trying to decide from externals who was sincere & insincere (wheat & tares) was risky and that such judging should be left to the angels. “Let both grow together until the harvest:”(O) Augustine’s comment on this Scripture says it well: “I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats [of ministry] there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world.” Christ did not use his virtuous standing to beat sinners into guilt.
Certainly, more can be said, but this is enough to chew on. God bless you my friend, & may the love of Christ fill your heart.
REFERENCES (A) 1 COR 12:6 (B) EPH 4:7 (C) MT 11:28 (D) REV 3:20 (E) LK 15: 1-2 (F) EX 22:21 (G) 1 COR 9:22 (H) LK 18:18-26 & MK 10:17-27 (I) MT 23:33 (J) TIT 3:10-11 (K) ROM 16:17 (L) JN 13:35 (M) ROM 12:2 (N) 2 TIM 2:16-17 (O) MT 13:24-30 His explanation follow this.