The Cycle of Intolerence

by 5:47 PM
If you call yourself a Christian, you’re most likely going to get put into one of 2 basic groups. The side that ignores love and wants to teach people rules of the bible or the side that ignores the rules and wants to just love people. If you really think about how society views Christians, you can clearly see that although these are extreme generalizations, that is how we are divided.You probably will find you fit slightly more into one or the other. In an effort to distance ourselves from the side we disagree with, we fall into the trap of distancing ourselves from a biblical center. I recently realized which side of the line I have fallen on and have been trying to work out which side is correct, if either. How are we to have a united movement in Christ if we can’t seem to agree on these basic points in the bible? Which way do we see Jesus lean in the bible? Does He lean either way? These are all questions I have found myself pondering lately as my worldview has begun to shift.

I have never considered myself an intolerant person. I have always believed in showing Christ's love to everyone, whether or not their moral compasses fall in line with mine. At least that is what I thought I believed for a long time. What I have come to realize is that I am completely intolerant of those who are intolerant. As backwards as that sentence sounds it's true for me. As I began to ponder all of this I found very quickly which group I fell into. I found it easy to love the people who are gay, the people who have had abortions, or any one who felt as though the “Christian” community hated or shunned them. I, however, found it hard to love those on the other side of the line. I couldn't stand the person who would rather hold up a picket sign telling people they're going to Hell instead of talking to them and showing them Christ's love. I couldn't stand people who came off as “preachy” or who wanted to talk about the rules of the bible more than the love in the bible.  I can now see I had not only picked my side, but I had fully embraced it. In today's society it's much easier to not love those who we can claim are "intolerant". It's easier to talk about how we would never be so quick to judge another person, asking each other how they could possibly be so intolerant. In doing that we are being just as intolerant as the people we complain about. As difficult as it may be, God calls us to love our neighbors, not just the ones we find it easy to agree with.

Ask my husband, or probably either of our roommates, I am the one in the house who likes to rant about injustice and intolerance. The day after the super bowl I kept seeing all that hate towards the “America the Beautiful” Coke commercial. I ranted for a whole 2 days about how obnoxious intolerant people are. It has taken all my self control to not get sidetracked and write an entire post just about that commercial. I am the first person to talk to people about how God views all sins equally, how He loves us all despite the shortcomings we all have. Are you hearing the irony here? Seeing the pedestal I was standing upon? I've come to realize the things I thought I believed so deeply I only believed towards certain groups of people. I am no better than the picket sign holder I was so quick to judge, I'm just on the other “side”. What if we all actually tried to love and understand one another? What if neither side continued this cycle of intolerance, and instead we just attempted to understand where each side was coming from?

What if we decided to show Christ's love whether we agree with a person or not. For me it was difficult to love people I found "intolerant" because I didn't agree with their worldview. I was finding it hard to relate to people who I perceived to be blinded by legalism. However, they probably found it just as difficult to love me. They could have perceived me as someone who was blinded by a tolerant society to the laws of the bible. Although there can be extremes on either side, in general I would say both of those perceptions are incorrect. Personally I believe you can “love the sinner and hate the sin”, until I had some deep realizations, I thought that was what I was doing. I realize though in the name of loving people I was tolerant of their sin. For the 1 or 2 conversations I had with people about where I stand on issues as a Christian, there were an infinite number of conversations I chose not to have out of fear of rejection. I think society gets overwhelmed when the church calls out sins, I think we are all scared of being labeled as a “bad person”. If we look at the bible we are all born with sinful desires in our hearts, despite the sin you struggle with Jesus did come to redeem you from those desires. On the other side, there are times where Christians can be quick to point out all the ways people are sinning and forget to love them first. Yes there does need to be a shift in a person's worldview for them to realize they need Jesus, but we need to make sure we are pointing them towards Jesus because we love them, not because we want to prove to them how right we are.

If we listened and talked to each other we would probably find that Jesus's life, was really in between the 2 sides. I can easily find biblical examples of Jesus showing love to sinners, eating with them, dying for them! He called us to also love, “ And He said to him ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself, On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 23:10.  However, I can just as easily find biblical examples of Jesus teaching right from wrong. He taught  the Pharisees and the sinners, He explained the correct biblical way to live. He also called us to teach, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of age’” Matthew 28:18-20. We can't just choose one side, if we believe in Jesus and are striving to live in a way more like Him, we need to realize He called us to love and teach. If you examine these verses closely you see “The whole Law and the Prophets” depend on love. Therefore, we need to love first, then out of love, teach and make disciples of all nations. We shouldn't let love blind us from the Law, as we shouldn't let the Law blind us from love. Jesus clearly says, we need to love and teach, one is not separate from the other. This never ending cycle of intolerance ends with us making the choice to chase after Jesus and His word. We are only going to unite for Christ when we can love and teach one another in a Christ-like way.

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