In the midst of the valid outcry against actual religious bigotry and a judgmental spirit, we, as Christians, may lose focus of the reality that we follow a man who claimed divinity and made exclusive statements such as: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Though the debate rages around the meaning and scope of both religious freedom and political rights, we can’t forget that we worship a God who is not fine with people following whatever religion. He wants all people to find peace and forgiveness with Him – this is only possible in Jesus.
“[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2.4-5
We must also recognize that that our society is continually challenging traditional understandings and definitions of sexuality, equality, and objective truth. Because of this sensitivity to notions of tolerance, it is especially vital for the Christian to exhibit a lifestyle of acceptance toward everyone regardless of the other person’s beliefs. We must be forthright about the absolute and dividing statements of scripture; however, a focus on solely winning arguments or “being right” about a topic will likely turn someone away from Jesus. Our society doesn’t need to be told that it is wrong so much as it needs to be shown an alternate and better way of living.
The saying “love the sinner and hate the sin” resonates with us because of its alignment with the way of Jesus. Unfortunately, we tend to either ignore the sin – failing even to question or challenge an obviously destructive lifestyle – or we hate the person by rejecting them and treating them with disdain. We must be as Jesus who, though never providing any excuse for sin but actually calling his followers to a lifestyle characterized by ultimate sacrifice in love, displayed patience and love to those who were known as “sinners” – the social scumbags of his day. May we gain a fresh perspective and renewed understanding of his love so that we will love those around us in the same way.
“grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” – John 1.17b
Why do you think Christians are often characterized by intolerance rather than love?