Intolerance is a word batted about like a tennis ball in the realm of politics, news and social media. Astand against certain behaviors draws accusations of intolerance. However, those screaming these accusations are rarely, if ever, tolerant of those with differing opinions.
Because some actions and attitudes are labeled as sin, the question arises, “Are Christians intolerant?”
Let’s look at what Jesus said and did.
- When confronting a group of Pharisees whose man-made legal burdens had been added to the Law of Moses, Jesus called them hypocrites and white-washed tombs. His intolerance for the religious burdens showed people what grace was without breaking the Law of the Old Testament (Matthew 23:27).
- He found a tax collector named Zacchaeus hiding in a tree and went home with this sinner to have dinner. His intolerance of the stealing of this wee man drew the thief to repentance (Luke 19:1-10).
- An adulterous woman thrown at His feet was given grace instead of condemnation. He didn’t tolerate her behavior, but His forgiveness caused a changed life for her (John 8:1-11).
- Demons were not tolerated by Christ. He didn’t pat the people in whom the demons dwelt on the back and say, “I’m sorry for your situation.” He cast the demons out and restored people to normal life (Matthew 4:10, Luke 11:14, Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:34, Luke 4:35).
- The greed of the money changers at the temple wasn’t tolerated. Jesus drove them out and restored order to worship (Matthew 21:12).
- He risked offending Martha when she questioned her sister, Mary’s, refusal to help with dinner. Yet His gentle correction showed Martha her motives were wrong (Luke 10:38-42).
Some think tolerance means allowing any behavior to be unrestrained with no opposition whatsoever. If Jesus had been afraid of offending any of the people He met, none of them would have been saved or set free.
An adulterous woman would have been stoned, Zacchaeus would have continued to steal, the temple would have continued to be polluted by greed and idol worship, Martha would have continued to be jealous of her sister and demons would have still resided in the bodies of people.
Some of the Pharisees did believe in Him. Nicodemus for one. Because Jesus confronted the wrong message the Pharisees portrayed about the Law, Nicodemus searched for the way of eternal life (John 3:1-17).
He had to offend the sin to deliver the sinner. And none of us were born without a sin nature (Romans 3:23). Confronting sin is the first step to getting rid of it. God loves people, but He hates sin because it destroys lives (John 10:10).
What if he had said, “Sorry guys, please don’t kill me, I didn’t mean to offend you?”
No cross, no redemption. We would all be lost and without hope. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
If those on the other side of the tolerance issue could only realize that Christians aren’t trying to hurt them, we are trying to save their lives.
But, unfortunately too many won’t listen to the message of salvation because they are blinded by their own philosophy (2 Corinthians 4:4). They somehow think that if everyone agreed and no one opposed them suddenly the world would be a happy, jolly place. But it wouldn’t because when there is no restraint of sinful behavior, sin only gets worse. And stopping sin is saving a spiritual life.
If your neighbor’s house was on fire in the middle of the night, would you stand and watch it burn because they might get offended if you woke them up to get them out?
You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you may most certainly rebuke your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him (Leviticus 19:18 AMP).
Jesus went to the cross and because of that He is still offending people.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
(1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV).
The cross is an offense. Why? Because it points to the only way to be saved. And that requires submission (Romans 10:9-10).
Submission and repentance.
And those are two things that are impossible to do if a heart has been hardened by sin. And a hardened heart can only be made soft by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Yes, some do use the message of the Bible in the wrong way and make sinners feel hated. But that is not the heart of the gospel. A true follower of Christ will show sinners the error of their ways by shining light on the sin so love can come through.
What believers must decide is if we are willing to face persecution for taking a stand for righteousness or give in to the pressure of society and compromise the truth.
So, are Christians intolerant? Not of people, only of sin—because the Savior was, too.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17 NKJV).
What do you think? Join the conversation and share your thoughts.
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