Tolerance. Tolerance is allowing the existence, occurrence, or practice of something without interference. Tolerance is preached by a variety of people- Christians and non-Christians alike. Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to live their life without the interference of others. But tolerance is the absence of love. Here’s why:
1. Tolerating other religions is the absence of love.
Let me be completely clear: I am by no means preaching that we should think less of others, attack others, or disrespect others that do not believe in Jesus Christ. What I am saying is that the most hateful thing you can do is not share the beautiful news of the gospel. Life is too short to be shy about eternity. If you want to respect someone’s life choices, do so. Just don’t deprive them of the opportunity to hear that there is a God who loves them. Don’t deprive them of the news that is not only life-changing, but eternity-changing. As much as I appreciate seeing a coexist bumper sticker, respecting others while withholding something much bigger than this life is not love at all.
This life is not about making it through school and working until you retire. This life is not about family or friends. This life is not about getting married and having children. This life is about finding true life through Jesus Christ and reflecting it onto others. It’s about bringing a taste of the fullness and satisfaction of heaven to earth. At its essence, Hell is eternal separation from God. Eternal separation from the only one that can fulfill you, perfectly love you, and provide for you. Don’t let your tolerance, fear of being a Jesus-freak, and shyness get in the way of someone else’s eternity. You are called to emulate the light of Christ. No one gets to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6). Help others know Him, we are His ambassadors.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says,
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ– God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2. Tolerating sin is the absence of love.
Christians (myself included) seem okay with a number of sins. Judgment (Matthew 7). Pride (Romans 12). Greed (Luke 12). Gluttony (Romans 13). Selfishness (Philippians 2). Gossip (2 Corinthians 12). Hatred (1 John 2). Idolatry (Exodus 20). These are sins that I personally struggle with. When we don’t call each other out in grace and truth, we are not loving each other the way we are called to.
Let me make something else clear: Good works don’t get you to heaven, but they are a natural result of a heart that belongs to the Lord. If your heart is truly changed by the truth of the gospel, you are naturally compelled to be more like Christ. We should be rejecting sin like God rejects sin. We need to be forgiving of ourselves and others, but we should be standing up against the sins that are very alive and well in our lives and in the church.
We should be embodying humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, selflessness, honesty, love, and service to the one true God. We should be encouraging each other to do so as well. We should not turn a blind eye to “acceptable” sins in our own lives or in the lives of others. I mean, where would I be if my mother wasn’t around to tell me I was being stupid most of my adolescence? (And still now. Thanks, Ma.)
Matthew 18:15-17 says:
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
3. Tolerating yourself is the absence of love.
It sounds cheesy, but I feel like God is asking me to be vulnerable in this moment. How many of us merely tolerate ourselves? On an average day, I honestly don’t like myself very much. I’m in a period of my life where my average week includes being rejected from yet another job, hating myself for eating mac and cheese instead of all the fresh fruit and vegetables I have, and being alone so much that I overthink about who I am as a person. Here’s the truth: I am far from perfect. I am selfish, controlling, and argumentative. I eat more than I should, exercise less than I should, and spend less time with people than I should. Ask my parents. Ask my brother. Ask my poor boyfriend.
But whatever you or your life are like, you were created in the image of God. Merely tolerating yourself is like merely tolerating God because you’re not fully appreciating His creation. Not to make you feel worse about yourself, but not loving yourself is a sin. I think one of the best traits to have is being self-aware. Yes, you should know your flaws– knowing them means you can work toward being more and more like Christ. But being self-aware includes being aware of your value and worth through Christ. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see someone who struggles with jealousy, judgment, and greed. He sees His daughter. He sees the image of His Son. He sees someone who was made righteous. He sees someone whose body and mind He created beautifully and perfectly.
1 John 3:1 says,
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.