Tolerance, subjective thinking, and Pharisees
Much is expected of us, even demanded regarding the virtue of tolerance. At its essence, it is an honorable mindset—accepting of others and kind in speech and action. In its expression, it has evoked a cultural shift into something less generous. The finger of the enlightened often points at Christians as being the source of all intolerance. They’re staunch, backward throw-backs thumping their Bibles and thumbing their noses. Well, there are some of them out there. They give the rest of us a bad name.
But there are as many personalities among Christians as there are among Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims and Jews. And even atheists. Personally, I’m a tolerant sort, preferring the life of a disciple as opposed to a Pharisee. By that I mean I choose to never stop learning and growing as a believer. I won’t consider any person beyond redemption. And I refuse to hang my believer’s hat on anything other than the Gospel.
Is there a ring of intolerance in that last statement? Am I denying there may be some other way besides the one I follow? Isn’t the Gospel itself a picture of intolerance?
In light of contemporary reasoning, the Gospel of Christ is considered to carry a message contrary to a more acceptable philosophy of subjectivity. Though we Christians may claim separation from worldly attitudes, trends edge into our thinking. Soon we’re convinced it’s no longer enough to be kind. We must now be in complete agreement with everybody. But that throws doubt at our convictions. We start to believe what’s true for us may not be true for all. Perhaps there are no absolutes. The best we can do is hold to an ineffective belief system and practice being less offensive.
But it isn’t simply a thought adjustment aimed at Christians. The ideology infects our entire society and leads us all down the same crooked road. Now tolerance is the rule and anyone who breaks the rule is an outlaw. Our very thoughts make us criminals, and what was intended to free us becomes our prison. We fall under the oppression of subjective thinking. And we call it tolerance.
Should we blame the liberal media? Probably. But what about the modern-day Pharisee? Like the leaders in Jesus’ day who didn’t appreciate His commonality with the less sanctified, we’ve all encountered Christians set on attaching something other than grace to redemption. They insist you fit the profile. And while I might make their cut, I find myself intolerant of their insistent badgering and eye-rolling. I’d rather be with Jesus and the tax collectors.
Which brings me to the intolerance of the Gospel. It’s only there if you look at it backwards. The Gospel is not about cleaning up so you can follow Christ. That might be what the Pharisees want you to believe. But it’s actually about following Christ and hiding behind Him so God won’t look at how filthy you are. Is there only one way to get to that safe place? Yes, and that’s the absolute truth. To tell anybody otherwise would be unkind.
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”John 14:6