Tolerance. It’s the buzzword in everyone’s vernacular these days, and it’s bantered around like an explosive tennis ball. It’s the holy grail of attitudes. It’s the banshee of political careers.
But no one appears to want to be tolerant of my apparent intolerance.
Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. I am quick to agree that many intolerances are wicked—racial prejudice is at the top of my list. But I’m really quite thankful that the Bostonians threw the British tea into the harbor (no offense intended to my Anglican readers), happy that Neville was replaced by Winston and that no one said “ho hum” concerning Pearl Harbor. I’m also quite pleased that some guy named Manson and his crew were gotten off the streets. Tolerance of all this behavior would have been, well, you know…intolerable.
In the Old Testament, the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon had similar challenges. Here’s the rub:
“The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a Temple to the LORD, the God of Israel. So they approached Zerubbabel and the other leaders and said, ‘Let us build with you, for we worship your God just as you do. We have sacrificed to him ever since King Esarhaddon of Assyria brought us here.’ But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel replied, ‘You may have no part in this work. We alone will build the Temple for the LORD, the God of Israel…’” (1)
Not the politically savvy way to get the locals on your side.
There are other examples, even in the New Testament, like when Jesus interrupted the flea market (pardon the pun) set up in the Temple, or when Paul told the Corinthian church to show one of their unrepentant number to the nearest exit. God makes it very clear in the book of James that true faith will inevitably be apparent by our observable behaviors. This doesn’t mean a perfect walk without stumbles, but it does clearly indicate a change of mind and worldview that reflects a pattern of living consistent with “everything pertaining to life and godliness”, in other words, God character reflected in my own. And if history teaches us anything, it’s that Christianity must be a free choice. Forced Christianity is a sublime example of oxymoron. Therefore, Jesus always showed people the door.
We Americans demand standards in all walks of life, from our medical care to our automotive repair bill. We expect standards created in our own image, but when it comes to standards created in God’s image (ie, the image that we are made for!) we cringe, we whine, and we politicize. And we scream about tolerance.
The biggest example of this was Jesus hanging on a cross. It was not merely the defiance of the Jews against God, but it was God’s act of judgment against Satan and sin. We were separated from our Creator, and our Creator could stand it no longer. So He took matters into His own (now nail-scarred) hands.
How terribly intolerant of Him.
- Ezra 4:1 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 25457-25461). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.