Reprise: Can’t We All Just Get Along?


When some people talk about Christians loving one another, they have in mind something akin to the secular idea of tolerance: we’re all supposed to accept other people where they are, how they are, regardless of what they believe. If it’s “true for them” than who am I to judge? The only belief that isn’t tolerated, it seems, is the one that says there is an authoritative right and wrong, a moral standard to which we all are accountable.

Now I fear that this wolfish tolerance attitude has stolen into the church dressed up sheepishly as love.

I fear this for two reasons. First, Christians have God’s direct command to love one another, but a false idea of what that love is can serve as an excuse to ignore Christ’s mandate. All Christians who aren’t exactly like me, then, don’t qualify as a brother I am to love, opening the door to partiality — something James speaks against unequivocally.

I fear this false love taking up residence in our churches for another reason: it fosters an “anything goes” mentality. No longer will Christians pay attention to what the Bible says about various issues because love is more important than “petty” differences.

Love is more important than petty differences, but what happens when “petty” becomes “any”? What happens when “petty” includes salvation, inspiration of Scripture, humankind’s sin nature, heaven and hell, the deity of Christ, the creation of the world, God’s role as a just judge, and any number of other beliefs clearly delineated in Scripture?

I find it particularly interesting that in one of the great passages about unity in the church, where Paul compares us to a body, with various parts fitting together to make a functioning whole, he includes the importance of sound doctrine.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:11-16, [emphasis added]).

So if we’re supposed to grow up into Christ, think for a moment about Christ and tolerance. Would we hear Him say, Can’t we all just get along? Not likely.

I suspect He saw a good bit of bickering from His disciples. After all, they discussed who would be the greatest in the kingdom, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee tried to do an end-around to get her boys into privileged positions.

That kind of self-promotion was the thing Jesus wanted them to do away with, I believe. Leadership was to mean servanthood, and the greatest was to get on his knees beside a basin of water to wash his brother’s feet.

In contrast, nowhere do I see Jesus telling His disciples to take a soft stand on truth. Instead, He was rather in-your-face about the matter. He spoke regularly and authoritatively from Scripture, and His pronouncements divided people. He knew this would be the case.

What He wanted, though, was those believing the truth to stand together, to serve each other, to look out for one another’s interests, not just their own.

That’s the love the church needs, not the “Can’t we all just get along,” pseudo love the world calls tolerance. That’s the love that will let people know what “Christian” really means.

This post, sans a few minor changes, first appeared here in June 2011.

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Two Sides To Every Argument


football line of scrimmageArguments have two sides (possibly more), or they wouldn’t be arguments. The thing about two sides (unless you’re talking about two sides to a coin or something analogous) is that they can’t both be right.

We understand this in competition. Two football teams battle it out in the Super Bowl, and only one will be crowned champion at the end of the game. Two speed skaters compete in the Olympics, and they won’t both win the gold medal. (In that instance, with numerous competitors, not all who made the finals will even end up on the medal stand).

Why, then, with the love of sports so high, seemingly worldwide, is it so hard to grasp the concept that competing philosophies can’t both be right?

I look at my life, for example, and marvel at God’s goodness and grace that brought me to a place of belief in Jesus and His work at the cross that reconciled me to my Creator. An atheist undoubtedly would look at my life and say that cultural influences have convinced me of a theist myth, and I’m merely showing my ignorance to hold to it despite the void of scientific proof for God’s existence.

Two sides—God is good and gracious; or culture is determinative, and I am ignorant.

The two are mutually exclusive. Did God choose my cultural influences as part of His plan for me, or did my culture superstitiously manufacture God to explain the unknown, and I am refusing to graduate to the modern (or post-modern) era?

I see the truth and the atheist is blind, or the atheist sees the truth and I am in the dark.

I see the light and the atheist is a fool (the fool has said in his heart, there is no God); or the atheist is insightful, and I am unenlightened.

Who’s to say?

I submit there is only One who knows for sure. God, who transcends the universe, is the only one in position to reveal Himself to Mankind. So did He?

The Bible says so. He chose a people group to show the nations what He was like, sent prophets with messages about His purpose and plans, sent His Son to the earth in the form of a Man, gave His inspired written revelation, put His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who are reconciled to Him. Does any other religion present such an unrelenting God, willing to go to such extents to reveal Himself to Mankind?

Despite all God has done, however, people today still demand a sign. If God would only make it clearer, if He’d only show Himself.

I wonder why these people think they would believe a new sign if they haven’t believed the ones they already have.

But here’s the point. Western society has adopted a postmodern outlook that elevates tolerance and praises the absence of absolutes—except, of course, for the absolute that says, you must tolerate all and exclude none.

Consequently, Kim Davis, Rowan’s County Clerk, is viewed, not as a person who wants to exercise her religious freedom but as a person who hates. She doesn’t actually have a belief that is contrary to the belief of those who applaud same-sex marriage. Rather, she is intolerant because she wants to exclude a group of people. Such a desire to exclude can’t possibly come from any other reason than hate because in the narrative spun by postmodern philosophy, there are only two positions: tolerance and hate.

Yes, the tolerance-rules faction of society still views arguments as having two sides, though of course they frame the two sides according to their value system.

Some, of course, try to get around this logical conclusion: two opposing ideas can’t both be right.

A seminary professor at a nearby school of theology, who will not be receiving tenure and is therefore leaving, is disappointed that his statements about Jesus “as an idealized human figure” are not sufficient for the school which wants him to articulate that He is also divine.

This professor also came up against another fundamental contrasting position. It seems the school felt “One had to like the idea that we define Christianity by what we believe.”

The topic which brought the differences between the school and this professor to a head was none other than same-sex marriage. He goes on to say that the point of divide was the way he and the school defined integrity:

Integrity is crucial for both of us. I define integrity as being true to the historical critical scholarship and bringing that into theological dialogue with the church. They define integrity as being true to the “Grand Tradition of the Church” and allowing that to guide what we see in and say about history.

You might wonder where the Bible is in all this. The professor makes it clear that from the beginning of his time at the school, the idea of inerrancy was nothing but a shibboleth, a long-standing belief regarded as outmoded and no longer important.

So without an authoritative guide, he concludes, “These are different ways of measuring integrity. Neither is right or wrong. . . Most of all, I am disappointed that we cannot hold these differences in creative tension.”

A truly postmodern view—we should be able to disagree, one thinking same-sex marriage is not consistent with Christianity and the other thinking it is consistent with Christianity, but by holding our views in creative tension, we should continue teaching theology together.

It’s like saying, we’ll hold black and white in creative tension. We’ll hold life and death in creative tension. We’ll hold wet and dry in creative tension.

Because, horrors, we can’t actually say one position is right and the other wrong. To do so would be to express an intolerance, to frame truth as exclusive. I have to say, the man is consistent.

But he ignores the fact that God exists or does not exist, that the Bible is true or is not true, that Jesus Christ came in the flesh or did not come, that He saves sinners or does not save sinners. Diametrically opposed positions really don’t have any creative tension that can hold them together. Two contradictory positions can’t both be right.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?


When some people talk about Christians loving one another, they have in mind something akin to the secular idea of tolerance: we’re all supposed to accept other people where they are, how they are, regardless of what they believe. If it’s “true for them” than who am I to judge? The only belief that isn’t tolerated, it seems, is the one that says there is an authoritative right and wrong, a moral standard to which we all are accountable.

Now I fear that this wolfish tolerance-attitude has stolen into the church dressed up sheepishly as love.

I fear this for two reasons. First, Christians have God’s direct command to love one another, but a false idea of what that love is can serve as an excuse to ignore Christ’s mandate. All Christians who aren’t exactly like me, then, don’t qualify as a brother I am to love, opening the door to partiality — something James speaks against unequivocally.

I fear this false love taking up residence in our churches for another reason: it fosters an “anything goes” mentality. No longer will Christians pay attention to what the Bible says about various issues because love is more important than “petty” differences.

Love is more important than petty differences, but what happens when “petty” becomes “any”? What happens when “petty” includes salvation, man’s sin nature, heaven and hell, the deity of Christ, the creation of the world, God’s role as a just judge, and any number of other beliefs clearly delineated in Scripture?

I find it particularly interesting that in one of the great passages about unity in the church, where Paul compares us to a body, with various parts fitting together to make a functioning whole, he includes the importance of sound doctrine.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:11-16, [emphasis added]).

So if we’re supposed to grow up into Christ, think for a moment about Christ and tolerance. Would we hear Him say, Can’t we all just get along? Not likely.

I suspect He saw a good bit of bickering from His disciples. After all, they discussed who would be the greatest in the kingdom, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee tried to do an end-around to get her boys into privileged positions.

That kind of self-promotion was the thing Jesus wanted them to do away with, I believe. Leadership was to mean servanthood, and the greatest was to get on his knees beside a basin of water to wash his brother’s feet.

Nowhere do I see Jesus telling His disciples to take a soft stand on truth. Instead, He was rather in-your-face about the matter. He spoke regularly and authoritatively from Scripture, and His pronouncements divided people. He knew this would be the case.

What He wanted, though, was those believing the truth to stand together, to serve each other, to look out for one another’s interests, not just their own.

That’s the love the church needs, not the “Can’t we all just get along,” pseudo love the world calls tolerance. That’s the love that will let people know what “Christian” really means.

Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm  Comments (6)  
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Membership Required – A Short Story


I’m a reasonable man, and fair-minded, so I’m told. My employees know they can count on a holiday bonus regardless of their political and religious affiliations, or their disaffiliations. I promote women through the ranks as often as I promote men. And I donate liberally to Preserve the Planet—my part of “packing out” what we humans “pack in.”

You can understand, then, why I’m outraged by what just happened.

On the surface the invitation appeared to be for the kind of event I usually attend: very exclusive. This one was to be held across the country at an out-of-the-way little estate near the coast. Ideal for mixing a lot of pleasure with a little business.

A quick phone call verified that the guest list included a significant number of my colleagues and competitors. Perfect!

I gave my personal assistant the okay to RSVP in the affirmative.

“One problem, your lordship,” he said, studying a sheaf of papers, “the invitation states you must be a member of the host association.”

“Let me see that.”

I snatched the top sheet from his hand—a piece of parchment folded in half and embossed with gold lettering. There at the bottom in bold block letters was the simple statement: Membership required.

“It’s got to be a mistake. A foul-up at the printers.”

My assistant held up the other pages. “They included a list of locations—hundreds within a few miles of us—where you can apply for membership, sir.”

“A formality, I’m sure, not really a requirement. They wouldn’t send me an invitation unless I could attend. That would be absurd.”

Any reasonable person would know I was right, but I had yet to learn who I was dealing with.

I rearranged my schedule and set the plans in motion to attend what I expected to be the event of the year.

Everything went like clockwork. The flight was routine and my jet landed on time. As arranged, a limo met me at the gate. The short drive to the event site took me past a stretch of pristine sand that walled off the white-capped breakers tumbling from the cyan water. The limo sped through a quaint village and finally into a eucalyptus forest with ivy-covered walls lining the road. The place exuded wealth—the studied-casual kind, and I knew I belonged.

The driver turned into a private road leading to the estate, but a gate with wrought-iron detail barred the way.

An owlish man, dressed like a maître d’ and holding a computer tablet, stepped from the gatehouse. “And you are …?”

I lowered my window, thankful that my hosts were taking such precautions against party crashers. “Baron Mikal Kolmakov.”

The underling’s wide eyes scanned the screen in his hand. He punched a key, then another. “I’m sorry, sir, you don’t seem to be on the guest list. Could you be under another name?”

“I’ve got to be there. I gave my personal assistant explicit instructions to accept the invitation.”

The man stooped and peered through the window. “Perhaps if you have your membership card, I can scan it in and put you on the list.”

“No, you don’t understand.” I slowed my speech so he could be sure to follow what I was about to explain. “I received an invitation.”

“Of course, Mr. Kolmakov—”

“Baron.”

“Excuse me?”

“Baron Kolmakov. I paid good money for that title.”

He straightened. “Of course, Baron Kolmakov. All the guests received invitations, but membership in the Association is still required.”

“I’m sure my personal assistant took care of the matter. I just don’t happen to have the card.” I never expected an underling to call me on that lie.

Owl Eyes tapped a few more keys, looked at me, then to the tablet screen and back at me. “Unfortunately, sir, membership must be obtained in person. Your assistant—a Mr. Suesov?—would not have been able to sign you up. He could only apply for his own membership.”

I suppressed a sneer. “I guarantee you my assistant did not receive an invitation.”

“Begging your pardon, Baron, but I have his RSVP in front of me.” He touched his finger to the screen. “A ‘no,’ I fear.”

“Well, then.” I adjusted the sleeves of my jacket. “But you must also have my RSVP—a ‘yes,’ is it not?”

“It is. However, your name was not included on the guest list since we have no record of your joining the Association.”

I massaged my temple. “I flew thousands of miles to attend this affair, and now you tell me I’m not on the guest list? That’s unacceptable. You’ll simply have to waive the membership requirement.”

“I’m sorry, Baron, but that is quite impossible.”

“Anything is possible, my good man.” I reach inside my coat for my leather wallet. “How much?”

“Excuse me?”

Apparently the man thought playing the fool would stretch my generosity. “How much compensation do you need to waive the membership requirement?”

He took a step back. “Sir, even if I wanted to, without the necessary card to scan into the computer, I couldn’t add your name for any price.”

I shoved my wallet back in place. “This is ridiculous. I want to talk with your superior.”

“Certainly sir.” Owl Eyes tapped the keys of his tablet. “Would you like to fill out the membership form while you wait for her to join us?”

“You mean you can sign me up right now? Here?”

“I can.” He reached into the guardhouse and grabbed a clipboard. “I just need you to fill out the application and I can process you through.”

“Then why can’t you process that gate open and let me join the party?”

He extended the clipboard toward me. “I’ll be happy to do so, Baron, as soon as your membership clears.”

I moved to the edge of my seat. “Are you suggesting I might get turned down?”

“Not if you’re in agreement with the Association’s core values.”

Who talks about core values in this era of enlightenment? “What kind of organization is this? Don’t you have any respect for other people?”

The gatekeeper stiffened, almost like he was military. “On the contrary, Baron. Respect for all people is one of our values.”

“Then you should respect my decision not to become a member of your association.”

“We do.”

“So … stop quibbling and open the gate!”

“I’m sorry, sir. Members only.”

“This … you’re … You just said you respect my choice not to join.”

“Our respect does not negate the association’s charter, Baron.”

I flung open the limo door and stormed toward Mr. Maître d’ until I towered over him. “Is this because of my nationality?”

He held his ground. “I can assure you, your cultural heritage or nationality has no relevance on your admission into the estate. You simply must become a member of the Association.”

“But only certain people can join.”

“The Association is open to all like-minded men and women.”

“Well, there you have it. Your precious Association won’t let someone like me join who opposes your idea of core values. How tolerant of you.” I injected as much sarcasm as I could into that last line.

“Baron, I wish I could help you.”

“Oh, but you’ve helped a great deal.” I pulled out my smart phone and pushed record. “You’re giving me all the information I need to haul every one of you prejudiced bigots into court.”

“Sir, you yourself said you received an invitation, and I offered to process your membership right now. How do you see this as bigoted?”

I let slip a smirk. “To attend this function, you say I must be a member, but only ‘like-minded’ people can be members—your term, not mine. That’s the definition of intolerant.”

“Sir, you were not excluded. You were invited. Perhaps if you examined the Associations list of core values—”

“Stop! Don’t try foisting those on me.” I retreated to the limo and slammed the door. Through the window, I said, “You cannot force me to believe something in contradiction to who I am. Inform your superiors that my lawyers will be in contact. I’m shutting you down.”

And I will, too. They think they can turn me away at the gate, but I’m not letting them get away with such discrimination. I’ve got friends in law enforcement, in government, in the media. We can do boycotts and lawsuits and smear campaigns.

As the limo backs out of the driveway, I tap the number for my personal assistant into my smart phone. When he picks up, I order him to get all the dirt he can on the Association because we’re going to war. There’s no reasoning with such intolerant people. My only choice is to bring them down.

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm  Comments (9)  
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“Love” Does Not Mean “Tolerance”


With all the communication in today’s western society, you’d think we would understand that words have meaning, yet I see blog visitors and hosts alike reminding each other of this fact with some frequency.

The message, however, doesn’t seem to be getting through to everyone.

Take, for example, a lengthy interaction regarding a recent article looking at our view of God in light of our view of hell, generated by Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. In a particular exchange, one commenter declared that he saw the holiness of God as love. The person with whom he was interacting say, no that God’s holiness means justice.

Stop, I wanted to shout. God’s holiness means holiness! Holiness is different from love, as it is different from justice.

In like kind, I’ve seen in a number of discussions on universal salvation, Rob Bell, and Love Wins, either an implication or an accusation that those who disagree with Mr. Bell’s views are intolerant.

What Pastor Bell’s opponents need is a lot more love and a lot less hypocrisy, they say. After all, his critics are exclusivists, happy to see billions and billions of people marching off to an unending fiery ordeal (at this point, some insert graphic details, after which they loudly declare that they could never worship a god who would do such a thing).

In one post I even read that some consider the reaction to Mr. Bell’s book “persecution,” and they likened the treatment he’s received to that meted out to Christ.

It’s time for us to get out the dictionary, I guess. Last time I checked, love does not mean tolerance. Someone who loves may be tolerant, much as God is tolerant of us. Some who claim His Son’s name accuse Him in the same way Satan did — “Has God really said …” and yet God in His loving kindness does not strike down every false teacher. That’s tolerance.

He’s also tolerant, which works itself out as patience, in that He doesn’t judge the world prematurely:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
– 2 Peter 3:9

However, I can think of instances when tolerance is not prompted by love but by greed or selfishness. Take for example the current game of Survivor. There is one individual who has made himself odious to his alliance because of his personality quirks. However, for various reasons — his physical strength, the fact that his personality makes him no threat to win — his group has kept him in the game. He serves a purpose, so they put up with him. But clearly their tolerance has nothing to do with love.

On the other hand, love is not always tolerant. Sometimes it requires a short leash or a rod of correction. Every parent knows this to be true. A loving parent is not going to tolerate a toddler running into the street. Doubtful that we’d ever hear, I love him too much to tell him he’s headed for danger.

Clearly, love is separate from tolerance. Sometimes love may express itself as tolerance, but other times it will not. And sometimes tolerance is motivated by love and sometimes it is not.

So, no matter what else takes place during the discussions about Rob Bell and Love Wins, can we please put to bed the idea that people who disagree with him are unloving because they aren’t tolerant of his views? Love and tolerance simply do not mean the same thing.

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Comments (6)  
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The Addiction Of Freedom


Hell is, as Lewis says, “the greatest monument to human freedom.”

So noted Pastor Tim Keller in a 1997 article in Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal, “Preaching Hell in a Tolerant Age.”

Interestingly, Pastor Keller identified a shift in attitude regarding freedom in the postmodern era akin to the attitude C. S. Lewis ascribed to those destined for hell in his classic work The Great Divorce.

The attitude is one that puts freedom above all else.

Perhaps the greatest paradox of all is that the people on Lewis’s bus from hell are enslaved because they freely choose to be. They would rather have their freedom (as they define it) than salvation. Their relentless delusion is that if they glorified God, they would lose their human greatness (Gen. 3:4-5), but their choice has really ruined their human greatness.

Once again I couldn’t help but think of atheist Christopher Hitchens and his dread of “celestial tyranny.” How sad that he does not realize the tyranny of his own desires. But unfortunately, he is not so different from the majority of people in western culture.

Freedom, we cry, let us voice our opinions, choose our own path, chart our own life. So we legalize abortion and a good deal of pornography. We outlaw spanking and prayer from school and tell parents Johnny needs medication, not discipline.

And then we wonder why children no longer respect authority, why tolerance is the end-all of our society, why child abuse is on the rise, and human trafficking is rampant, why greed runs Wall Street and corruption keeps cropping up in Washington, or City Hall.

Somehow we’ve missed the connection points. Freedom, when it becomes more important than salvation, enslaves just like any other idol. And freedom to pursue sex without consequences makes a person addicted to lust. Freedom to pursue wealth without restrain makes a person addicted to greed. Freedom to pursue unbridled power over others makes a person addicted to bullying.

If we would open our eyes, we would see the trap to which the pursuit of freedom can lead. It currently holds Christopher Hitchens tightly in its jaws. No one, most certainly not God, is going to tell him what to do with his life, not even in the last hours as he hurtles toward death. Why? Because he wants to enjoy humanity.

Sadly, he’s chained himself to the ephemeral rather than to the eternal. For, yes, the option is also slavery.

But what a difference. Rather than slavery to that which would destroy, becoming a bond-slave of Jesus Christ is freeing.

What a contradiction, but that’s in line with what we learn from Jesus. If we lose our lives, we’ll find them. If we are last, then we’ll be first. If we become His slaves, He’ll set us free. Then, and only then, will we be free indeed.

Published in: on October 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Comments (6)  
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Unity and Tolerance


Unity is something God calls Christians to. We are, as Paul put it to the church in Philippi, to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

Again, to the church in Corinth, he wrote

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
– 1 Cor 1:10-13 (emphasis mine)

No divisions? This does not sound like the church I know.

Instead, the Protestants I hang around with are skeptical of “ecumenical” movements. And the buzz word of our culture, “tolerance,” is one of the dirty words no self-respecting Bible believing Christian would … well, tolerate, right?

Except … Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians to paint a picture of the church as a body—not all of us hands or feet or eyes or ears, some of us less presentable than others.

Gifts, some will say—that passage refers to gifts! True. But the point is still unity amid diversity.

Am I advocating, then, a union with churches like the one mainline denomination I just recently read about that has okayed practicing lesbians to serve as pastors? Well, no, I’m not. At this point I think we need to revisit the issues that surfaced in the discussion of the post “What Constitutes Rejection of God?”

At some point, when a person rejects the Bible, he is rejecting God. While I might disagree with some interpretations of the Bible, I think there is a commonality I share with true believers who also look to Scripture as the inspired Word of God.

We might do things differently (such as baptism), might believe different things about the non-essentials (such as style of worship), but in the end, we love God and love our neighbors, we share the same Holy Spirit, and we purpose to make Christ known. Our minds are “set on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).

Tolerance? Not of sin in the camp. But of one another’s weakness, absolutely. We are to bear each other’s burdens, give deference to a weaker brother, teach those who are younger in the faith. We are to endure all things (I Cor. 13:7b).

Endure the music we don’t care for in the worship service. Endure an older person falling asleep next to us. Endure a crying, squirmy child in the row in front of us. Endure the cell phone ringing in the middle of the sermon. Endure the pastor’s casual style of dress. Endure the choir’s robes.

When, oh when, did we the church become so fractured by minor issues, even as we opened ourselves to teaching that denies the veracity of the Bible? It’s not a new thing, I know, but maybe it’s time we show the world we are Christians by how we love one another.

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm  Comments (8)  
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What of Justice?


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An amazing thing seems to be happening as a result of the culture of tolerance: justice seems to be losing ground. Interestingly, at the same time, vengeance seems on the rise.

Why do I associate “tolerance” with these two? In part because of Proverbs 1. In the book’s prelude, Solomon gives his reasons for issuing these truth statements. One such is for “instruction in wise behavior,/righteousness, justice and equity” (emphasis mine).

In the next sections Solomon defines and describes knowledge and wisdom, declaring that the starting point of both knowledge and wisdom is to hold God in awe. By extension, that means the starting point of justice is to hold God in awe.

But we live in a tolerant society in which God is not held in awe. He is the one person who is not tolerated. Not in government, in the schools, in the work place, and some say He should not be allowed to enter into the decisions citizens make regarding public policy.

Should we be surprised, then, at a loss of justice in our land?

But perhaps a loss of justice doesn’t seem apparent. Let me mention a couple things. Last night there was a reality TV show that created troubling situations in public places, then filmed people reacting. Some ignored the situation, others stepped in and did what they could to help.

One situation was a baby (actually a life-like doll) in a locked car. Many people were troubled and even called the police (who were in on the setup). When asked why, they said a life was at stake.

Later in the show, they repeated the situation with a dog. Again, people got involved and did what they could to rescue the animal. When asked why, they again said a life was at stake.

And yet, abortion is legal in our country, and people who “create a scene” as these folks did to save the baby, to save the dog, are painted as extremists and troublemakers. Would any of the people in those clips have said about abortion, A life is at stake? But they would say this about a dog. Where is equity in our land?

One other. Our courts. I ranted about this a couple years ago. No longer do the courts even pretend to be about discovering truth in a criminal case. The “trial” is all about convincing the jury one way or the other. If a guilty person gets off, the defense attorney says he did his job, which was to push the prosecution to create an air tight case, and they failed.

If an innocent person is convicted, apparently there is little recourse. It’s hard to get out of an air tight case, even if the “facts” are based on lies, as some have discovered when victims who lied have recanted or when recently retrieved DNA evidence counters the previous findings.

But where is our outrage? Why are we not picketing the streets demanding a return to the concept of justice? In some respects, it seems we have given up hope of finding justice within the system. Hence the rise of revenge. Revenge movies had a hey day for a while, and steadily that thinking has spilled over into our personal attitudes. Road rage and payback are just expressions of individuals wanting to get even. Wanting justice.

Sadly, our society seems to have bought into the idea that truth is in the eye of the beholder. But that shouldn’t be a surprise because the beginning of knowledge and wisdom has gone by the wayside.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 10:51 am  Comments (8)  
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