Posted by: minnow | March 10, 2016

Preachin’ Tolerance…NOT

Sunday (3/6) I was accused of picking a fight, needing to be contrary, and preaching tolerance.  One of these things is not like the other and it is also categorically incorrect.  I do not preach tolerance. I acknowledge (allow, recognize, accept, even encourage)  differences.  But, for me [SIDEBAR: I admit I am tweaking the dictionary definition of tolerance a bit to make my point so please if you’re going to comment don’t waste time trying to point out all or any of the times I have, in your opinion, “preached tolerance”.  Instead, just try to understand the point and focus your comments there.] tolerance is cowardly.  It is knowing something is wrong but being too afraid or too lazy to do anything about it.  Considering how I know the person who accused me of “preaching”, I might suggest it is praying when you ought to be advocating change, defending the marginalized, and walking out–as opposed to hiding–your faith.  But please, do not hear what I am not saying.  Jesus spent a heck of a lot of time praying so I am not against prayer.  Jesus, however, did not confuse prayer with action and neither should we.  He understood in a very literal sense what being the hands and feet of God meant–as in: His were nailed to a cross.  Still, he told his disciples that they would DO greater things than he had done (John 14:12).  We need to start behaving like the Jesus of the Gospels.

Now, I would not say I pick fights or am contrary just to be contrary but I am more likely to contradict a post, or blog, or comment or post-it when I think looking at the issue or idea differently might actually help us love our neighbor just a little more effectively.  I do not preach tolerance because I think, tolerance is a dirty word.  Those of us who have experienced God’s love ought not be tolerant!  Instead, we ought to be walking  out His love.  But wait–aren’t those the same thing?! NO! Perfect love casts out fear.  Perfect love picks up the cross.  Perfect love confronts injustice.  Perfect love includes the unworthy.  Perfect love covers the broken.  Perfect love lifts up the down trodden.  Perfect love actually makes the table bigger which is not the same as making a big show of inviting people to come look at the table or glean the crumbs from the table.  If we have no intention of listening to their stories or caring about their experience we have no business pretending to welcome strangers into the fold.  If our expectation is that people start looking like us, talking like us, thinking like us, and behaving like us before we are willing to treat them with respect or value, then we have no business calling ourselves little Christs.

So, if what I just said offends you–good.  But before you start shaking your head and thinking I’m hopelessly lost, begin to think or speak ill of me, or add me to your prayer list of lost souls, do me a favor–ask yourself why you’re offended?  You see, I haven’t used vulgar language.  I haven’t called anyone names. I haven’t even called anyone by name. I haven’t belittled anyone’s faith, mocked their value system, maligned their character, or slandered their being.  The closest I came to any of that was to mention prayer and even then, I was quick to clarify that prayer, per se, is not an issue. What I did do is point out very specific behavior, imply that a semi-specific group of people is more likely than others to engage in that behavior, and explain, specifically, where I have a problem.  You feeling offended, to me, indicates one of two things–either I hit the nail on the head and you feel a twinge of guilt or, I hit the nail on the head and you share my position.  All other reactions to what I said would not pick up offense.  Sure, you might want to point out where you disagreed with me.  You may choose to explain where I come across as harsh, sarcastic, or overly critical. Or, maybe you would simply move on.  But if you are feeling offended, you probably need to figure out why.

One of my favorite passages in Revelations is when the Lord tells the church in Laodicea he is about to spit them out because they are only lukewarm.  I am not suggesting we should walk around intentionally offending people to prove we aren’t standing in the MEH camp.  But I am saying, the time has come for compassion and justice to join hands.  Silence in the face of prejudice, fear-mongering, and discrimination is unacceptable and unlike Christ.  So by all means–call me the B-word, complain about how irritating and insufferable I can be and then become a little B-word-y yourself. The world is full of wounded, helpless, discouraged people who need to see Jesus on the faces of their neighbors.

 

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