Heard a great Father’s Day message today from our pastor. His main emphasis was this: Do you accept people – or are you just tolerant?
It makes you think. Somewhere deep inside of all of us – is this nasty habit of judging those that are different from who we are – or look different – or talk different – or do things that we don’t do. The bible talks about this issue much in scripture – and that God is the ultimate judge of our heart and motives – and yet we still think we need to help Him out.
Maybe you were raised that drinking alcohol was wrong. Maybe it was the rules and regulations of the church you belonged to – although for the life of you – you can’t find anywhere in scripture where it actually says that it’s wrong. It started out as a good idea once upon a time – or maybe had its roots in good upright moral principles – but then it went sideways somehow – and instead of it being a cultural thing or a church background thing – it became something more. It became a judgement call. You find yourself looking at those who have a glass of wine with dinner as less than spiritual. Less of a Christian perhaps. And they become marginalized. You politely tolerate them – but you do not accept their way of thinking. You do not accept them. You don’t think they’re really saved.
Maybe it’s an issue of something as superficial as getting your ears pierced – or something else. Maybe it’s a tattoo. As was pointed out this morning – if we are going to make an issue out of a scripture in Leviticus about marking our body with a tattoo – then we better be willing to take the verse directly in front of it which talks about men cutting their hair and trimming their sideburns as being a sin. And of course – that would be silly, right? But we hold onto what we want to – or what we’ve been taught – and refuse to look at what scripture really means – and take the context and the heart of the message into consideration. But how many people – especially from an older generation – just tolerate those who pierce and tattoo? Instead of accepting.
Now accepting means I have to give in – and I have to let go. And that is my safety net – to believe in something so strongly. I feel justified. I feel right. I am right. It means giving up that right – in deference to you. It means swallowing my pride and self-righteous attitude and allowing you to be right.
Jesus came along as a radical to teach us that the Kingdom of God is backwards from what we normally think. It teaches us to be servants and the lowest of all – when we want to be seen and heard and be the one in charge. It teaches that we must be willing to forgive – even when we did nothing wrong. It teaches that you are more important than I am. That I have no personal rights. It teaches that I lay my life down for others. And this goes WAY beyond tolerance – even beyond acceptance. It means that even with our differences – you are more important than I am. And I submit to you.
And because God is the final ultimate judge of the heart – then I must lay aside my opinion of you and allow you to work on you – and allow the matter to be between you and God.
Ouch. You mean – I can’t have an opinion and tell you to your face that you’re wrong – even if you are? Not if we live by Kingdom principles you can’t. We must let God do His work – and our job is to love and win others by our love. There is nothing more motivating than a person who loves – and does not judge.
This is why it does not feel right when Christian brothers and sisters judge one another – and cannot be reconciled together after a grievance. God is love. He dwells in relationships of people. We need to forgive each other – and we need to love.
I am praying for you today that you will not just tolerate your brother or sister – but that you will learn to love and prefer them and their opinions and choices – over your own. Accept them in love – just as Christ Jesus has loved and accepted you.