Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tolerance (2 Corinthians 11:16-21a)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:16-21a

Much is said these days about tolerance. We need to tolerate others’ beliefs, flaws, foibles, idiosyncrasies, and, as Paul writes, foolishness.

Webster’s defines “tolerance” as the “capacity to endure pain or hardship” (synonyms include endurance, fortitude, and stamina). Verse 20 of today’s scripture seems to speak to this kind of tolerance: enduring persecution and suffering.

But verse 19 seems to illustrate the second of Webster’s definition—and what our society means by tolerance: “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own; the act of allowing something.”

While I believe we should be sympathetic and compassionate with all people, no matter what they believe, I do believe that we who follow Christ must be careful about “allowing” those beliefs to permeate or meld with our own. Tolerance doesn’t mean acceptance.

Unfortunately, for many, these terms are interchangeable. This is why many Christians are jumping on the “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe” bandwagon. The “all roads lead to heaven” squad. The “do what you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone” team.

Dangerous territory.

Yes, we need to love others—this is, after all, the second greatest commandment (Mark 12:31). Yes, we need to show compassion, kindness, and gentleness. Yes, we need to shine Christ’s light to everyone.

But we cannot—we must not—allow beliefs that are contrary to God’s word to infiltrate our hearts and souls. We can 
tolerate but we must stand firm in faith.

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