“Nevertheless, I have this against you…you tolerate…” -Jesus in Revelation 2:20
The world we live in is changing faster than we can keep up. Americans from all walks of life are expected to accept, affirm, and value every form of lifestyle. But let’s face it – for those of us living in Midwest America where smoking pot is illegal, abortion is highly looked down upon, gay marriage has officially been banned, and we’ve voted to elect a conservative president in the last four elections, tolerance is really a foreign conversation. We simply don’t know how to respond. All the while everyday people right here at home are crying out to have the conversation. And the Church remains silent; that is, unless we’re in the company of likeminded believers. What are we supposed to do?
As people who love Jesus and love others, how in the world are we to balance the truth of God’s Word while also being tolerant?
The dilemma of tolerance is not an issue new to 21st century America. It was an issue that Jesus commissioned the Apostle John to address to a Church in the book of Revelation. The Church in Thyatira was a growing Church advancing the Kingdom of God. Their ministry was making a difference. But they were tolerant of false teaching and sexual sin. If you read the admonition, they were not promoting false teaching and sexual sin; but, they were tolerant. In other words, they did nothing to stop it. And for that, Jesus was angry. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “Godʼs will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.”
Jesus wants His Church to be HOLY.
The message of holiness is incredibly offensive in the American culture today. While Jesus wants His Church to be holy, our culture demands that we be tolerant of unholy living.
So What Should The Church’s Stance Be On Tolerance?
As followers of Jesus, we must base not only our beliefs and convictions, but also our lives upon the truth of Godʼs Word. It really doesnʼt matter what our culture decides is right or wrong. We are not to change the Word of God, instead we should allow the Word of God to change us!
What Was Jesus’ Stance On Tolerance?
In the Gospel of John chapter 8, Jesus encountered a group of religious leaders bent on punishing a woman who was caught in adultery. Scholars suggest that this woman was pulled right out of bed from the man she was having sex with. Now we know that it takes two to tango, but the Bible doesn’t even mention the religious leaders anger with the man who was joining in the adulterous sin. With stones in hand and minds set on her execution, Jesus calls out the sins of every man in the crowd. Grips release, stones drop, and the angry mob dissipates.
And then Jesus responds to sexual sin. In love He says, “I do not condemn you.” Words of grace and mercy. Tolerance. But He doesn’t stop here. This is exactly where the world “thinks” the Church should remain. But Jesus goes one step farther. In John 8:11 Jesus boldly commands, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Church, we cannot tolerate sin more than Jesus. If we live by Jesusʼ example, we can tolerate sin so long as it leads to repentance. (That’s worth a retweet!)
The Gospel of Jesus is offensive. Itʼs offensive because Jesus toleration of sin is not a means to an end. In fact Jesus was so opposed to sin and so intolerant of sin that He gave His life on the cross to conquer sin once and for all.
And while the Gospel is offensive, it is not intended to just offend. The Gospel of Jesus refuses to leave you and I in our sin; rather the Gospel intends to redeem you and I from our sin.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Keep the conversation going (and keep it Biblical) by leaving a comment!
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