Tolerate or Love?




  1. showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

“we must be tolerant of others”

  1. able to endure

“rye is reasonably tolerant of drought”

It is relatively amazing that people of faith take pride in being tolerant. As Christians we somehow feel that we are special for tolerating another person’s behavior, belief system, etc. A moment later we turn and blast a culture of acceptance and tolerance. We then wonder why we have more people than ever feeling as though Christians are unloving and pathologically hypocritical.

It is not as though we can be perfect and always love those who may not love us back. Offering the other cheek is truly a hard thing to do. If you could offer a cheek, as a popular apologetic once asked could you offer your pants in a crowded room of fellow professors and students, and then forgive and be though you faith be moved to love the person to pray for them, not to be condemned, but to be loved by Jesus also?

It is easy for us to know that for Jesus we are hated in within the world as Christians. However, how far is tolerate from hate? It is too close. The terms are in fact relative. What we know from relativism there is no absolute truth in relativism. There is no absolute truth in tolerating another person; at that point we struggle to find the meaning in the first and second commandment. If you were to take it a step farther that would mean that some of God’s words were only accurate. This would look more like a doctrine that we could take some points from Buddhism, and even atheism. At what point do we say then it is in accordance with Gods law to then hate your enemy if you are in fact tolerating.

We are at the place when we pray for those we cannot tolerate, because some people are in a bad way, or simply just bad people. We at that time must soul search not only our own heart, and find the means to pray for that person. The truth is that God’s love is pure, Holy and he indeed loves everybody. That is a fact. How else can we have hope for not only the perpetual sinner, whether it be a murderer or someone who cannot lift their face from the crack pipe that holds them in bondage. In the end it is about freeing people from bondage, not freeing us from our ability to tolerate. For that we must pray for ourselves, not the sinner. We need to look at the sinner and what they offer as human beings, as a resource and a vehicle to free others from the torment that makes their life unlivable. Teach the teacher. I have never heard of two things: someone not saved lead someone to salvation and a Pastor who had not walked a mile in a perpetual sinner’s shoes first.

For nearly two decades I worked with those who struggled with mental health diagnoses and also other issues, which held them in a place of despair on bad days and as well allowed them to only cope on good days. I can no longer work in that field because of the treatment modalities and as well the mental health system at large part played a large role in the continuing pain of enabling and as well refusing to treat the whole person by and large having next to zero faith based treatments. It was as though that part of the person did not exist. If a ‘consumer’ or ‘client’ was brave enough to speak of God or even Jesus (there is just something about that name), they were discounted as having “religiosity” in their lives.

The time when Jesus was there for them in their darkest hour was most likely discounted. The therapist felt the need to be there for them in the time of need. They of course have a license to worry about, so they cannot pray with the client. I have another post on this at a later time for this enabling at an exponentially worse level. The problem is the lack of belief the therapist has for their own abilities to heal or to correct a mental illness, or behavior. This is not to say they shouldn’t either because they are absolutely ill equipped to reach someone who wasn’t listening to the part of them that meant the most. When you are in a treatment center, or local, coffee shop or group home and you attempting to form a relationship the fastest way to lose trust with someone is to not listen to their heart when they say Jesus is keeping them fighting and holding on.

This is why in the Church we as Christians need to look at the whole person; strengths as well as weaknesses. Not just to forgive, because last time I checked the job of Jesus to forgive or not to forgive. If you choose to look at only a person’s weaknesses when they walk into a sanctuary, chapel, rec hall, food pantry or office and you discount their strengths or weaknesses then you have lost the heart, and you will lose the person who you are allegedly their to serve. It is always the heart.

Recidivism is horrible on a therapist, backslides must also be painful to watch. On the other end of the spectrum, perceived or stated tolerance – that is actually disgusting. We go hard after the enemy and his works. ‘If we see a brother stumbling we back in there and lead him out’ to paraphrase Pastor John Gray. We help a brother with love and prayer, not with dismissal, ignorance and tolerance. This will lead people to their place when they feel safe and disarmed enough to let their guard down and give it to God. At that point we as brothers and sisters can just be there for them in their darkest hours, reminding them of the Love that the Lord has for them.



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