Divisive and Intolerant?

If we voice our deep belief as Christians, we are likely to hear, “That’s divisive…” or, “You’re intolerant…” – or something to the same effect. The danger then becomes that in order to avoid these charges we dilute our discourse.  After all, how can we witness if we insult people and drive them away?  Donald Miller in his book Blue Like Jazz said,

The trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.  And there is something inside me, some selfish beat of a subtle thing that doesn’t like the truth at all because it carries responsibility, and if I actually believe these things I have to do something about them.  It is so cumbersome to believe anything.  And it isn’t cool….  The problem with Christian belief – I mean real Christian belief, the belief that there is (sic) a God and a devil and a heaven and a hell – is that it is not a fashionable thing to believe.” 

Consider this.  In the main, the reason people don’t like to hear us take a stand on certain moral issues is that they don’t like being told they are wrong.  They are saying, “Don’t judge me.  You don’t know the real me and what I’ve been through.”  And, in truth, do we know them?  Do we know their heart and what they’ve been through?  Additionally, our religious beliefs and practices just might not benefit their interests.  In other words, we threaten them.

As Christians, we are commanded to love people.  And, even the most despicable person you know is exactly one of the people Jesus went to the cross to save… the same as He did for you and me. Therefore, as followers of Jesus, we must first honor God, and second, love people.  That is also the key to expressing our belief. We must do our best to follow the example Jesus set – love other people, show compassion no matter what, and give our all in every endeavor.  In John 4:6–42 we see Jesus in action.  Jesus pauses at a well where He meets a Samaritan woman who is living in sin.  They have a conversation.  Jesus frankly lets her know that He knows she is living with a man who is not her husband.  He does not condemn her.  In fact their conversation not only results in her becoming a believer but also causes her to lead others from her village to hear Jesus and many of them, in turn, also become believers.  Note please, these people were Samaritans.  A people no self-respecting Jew would even speak to, except perhaps, to order out of their way.

The point is, just as happened at a well in Samaria 2000 years ago, people will notice.  Some will be moved by the Spirit to seek information or in some way open the door to direct discussion.  Then, when witnessing to individuals we must make sure they understand first that we love them; and second, that what they are doing is wrong and will ultimately hurt them, others, and even God.

Above all, we must not in the name of tolerance accept that all points of view are equally valid, including those that are mutually contradictory.  It simply is not true that, “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you truly believe it”.  That is nonsense.  Nor should we accept the “intolerant” argument. Christianity is available to every human being on planet Earth. That seems rather accepting to me.

So, let’s just do as we’re commanded by a loving Father: live God’s way, love people where they are, and, when God gives you an opportunity, lovingly help them to leave their sin at the foot of the cross. 

Will some still consider us intolerant and narrow-minded?  Absolutely!  I guarantee it.  Remember two others were crucified with Jesus that day on Golgotha.  (One accepted Jesus; one went, cursing Jesus, to his grave).  Jesus was a very divisive person.  He could polarize a crowd often before he even opened His mouth.  Were you expecting an easy ride?  Jesus told us that following Him would be difficult.  We were warned. 

Avery

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