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Love vs Tolerance

Loving Like Jesus

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” -Gandhi

Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ:

A privilege
As Christians it is our privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world (1 Corinthians 12:27) . It is no secret that we live in a hurting world in which many people are suffering and in great pain. There is a great deal of physical pain that needs healing, a great deal of mental and emotional pain that needs healing, and a great deal of spiritual pain that needs healing. If the world had the answer they would have fixed the problem by now, but as we all can see, the world is getting worst. As Christians we have the answer, we have to solution, and we have the power! The answer is Jesus, the solution is to love others, and the power comes through the Holy Spirit that lives in us (Acts 1:8).

Gandhi’s observation

Yes, as Christians we certainly have the answer, but are we sharing the answer with the world? Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Unfortunately Gandhi is correct in so many ways. There are many who bear the name Christian, myself definitely included, who fail many times in giving an adequate witness for Christ to the world. We should remember, the Pharisees knew the law and were well informed of the scriptures, but when it came to actually embracing it in their hearts and showing it through their actions, they fell short. The purpose of sharing Gandhi’s quote is not to bash us Christians in the body of Christ who may be falling short, because we all fall short(“As it is written there is none righteous no not one” -Romans 3:10), instead; the purpose is to encourage and help guide us all in this faith journey together as believers in the one body of Christ.

The devil’s Counterfeit
As stated earlier, the answer to healing the people in world is Jesus, and many Christians are aware of it. The power is the Holy Spirit, which hopefully many pastors are preaching about. However when it comes to the solution(Love), I believe there is a great deal of confusion. It seems that confusion has come into the body of Christ regarding what it really means to love like Jesus. For those who have had the opportunity to study the Bible, we quickly find that the enemy always has a counterfeit or a poor substitute for things that God puts forth.

When Moses turned his staff into a snake to demonstrate the power of God, the devil had Pharaohs sorcerers turn their staffs into snakes as well (Exodus 7:10). It should be noted that Moses’ serpent defeated Pharaoh’s serpents. The Bible tells us that God sent Jesus as our savior from Heaven to demonstrate his love, and historical secular records bear witness of the life and claims of Jesus. However, since His first coming, nearly countless of other counterfeit religions have sprouted up also claiming that their messiah came from heaven. We also see in the Bible that God sent His prophets to proclaim His message, and the devil likewise has sent numerous false prophets(as Jesus warned about Matthew 7:15) to send counterfeit messages. This is no different when it comes to love, the enemy also has a counterfeit “love” to deceive us into being led astray. It would not be wise for us to think that the enemy who has counterfeited just about everything God does, has chosen to remain silent when it comes to God’s most powerful weapon (Love).

The counterfeit of Love
As Christians, aside from faith in God through Jesus, it is all about the love of Jesus. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." This means that the hallmark, the radiant glow, and the signature of a Christian is the love of Christ in them. It is nice to know scripture, go to church, perform miracles, or even speak in tongues, but those things are not what Jesus said will identify us to the world as His followers. Jesus said that they will know us by our love. The enemy wishes to counterfeit the true love of Christ and thereby weaken our witness and effectiveness in sharing Jesus with the world because he knows the immense power that we have (the Love of Jesus). The counterfeit for love that we see in our world today goes by the name of tolerance.

It should be noted that when you counterfeit something you want the counterfeit to look as close to the real thing as possible, so it should be no surprise that there are many similarities between the two(love and tolerance). The enemies goal is to put forth a substitute that allows people to believe that they are actually loving while leading them astray by his counterfeit(tolerance). Just as a real dollar bill and a counterfeit bill appear the same from a distance, similarly, love and tolerance from a distance can seem the same. However with further scrutiny and careful detailed analysis, the differences come out. For example, some counterfeit money are so much like the real money that you cannot see the difference with your naked eyes. For such tricky counterfeit bills you need special light that sees deep beyond visible light and into other wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum(x-rays, ultraviolet light, etc). In the spirit of the same analogy, this is why we as Christians need to use our special light by which we will not be fooled by the devil’s counterfeits. The Bible reveals what our light to spot the counterfeit is as John 8:12 reads,“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jesus is our light by which we can critically examine and scrutinize any suspected counterfeit to see if it is fake or the real McCoy. Jesus tells us that if we use Him as our light, we will not be fooled(walk in darkness).

What about tolerance?
On the surface we may wonder, what is wrong with tolerance? Well, while tolerance is appropriate and called for in many situations, it is not love and not what Jesus called us to do. Let us put tolerance to the light of Christ and see what it reveals. In the Bible the light shines and we notice that Jesus did not say, “They will know you are my disciples by how tolerant you are of others.” John 3:16 does not say, “For God so tolerated the world that He sent His only begotten Son...” 1st Corinthians 13:13 does not say, “and now these three remain: faith, hope and tolerance. But the greatest of these is tolerance.” In all three of those powerful verses in the Bible, love is the active word, not tolerance. Jesus said they will know by your love, and for God so loved the world, and Paul said, the greatest of these three is love.

The difference
So what is the difference? Well tolerance is very passive and has to do with permitting and allowing, and putting up with, while love is active and has to do with concern for others, making sacrifices for the benefit of others, and taking risk. One may tolerate(put up with) a pesky fly that is buzzing around his/her ear and let it be. One may tolerate loud music while they are trying to study to try to keep the peace. A mother may tolerate her female child being abused by her significant other in order to maintain her relationship with him. One may tolerate a rude boss who treats them with little respect in order to earn a pay check. A politician may tolerate certain levels of fraud by a business because they have received campaign funds from that business. Tolerance is really about letting things be, it does not implicitly seek to bring about change, or take risk to make things better. Tolerance often brings about indifference, apathy, and a disconnect.

Examples of Love

When it comes to love, a parent who loves their child would not tolerate the child’s inappropriate behavior in school, but would provide positive encouragement and nurturing discipline to help that child be their best. A parent who loves a child would not tolerate or permit the child to play in the streets due to safety, but would provide a safe and fun play area for their child. A spouse who loves their spouse would not tolerate their spouse to be sexually active with another, as that would be a mockery of the love that they have both professed, however the spouse would demonstrate their love and set clear boundaries for their relationship, and even forgive infidelity if repentance had occurred. A wife who loves her husband and loves herself would not tolerate herself to be beaten and abused because she knows her value and knows that she is not showing her husband love by allowing him to continue to treat her in that way. A women who has been assaulted may be able to tolerate the pain through medication, but healing and true freedom will likely not come until she is able to receive love and know that she is valued, regardless of what has happened to her. A friend who loves another friend will not tolerate them to drive while drunk, rather they would offer to be the sober one to drive them home to ensure their friends safety.

God loved the people of Nineveh which is why He sent Jonah to warn them of their sins to save them, God did not sit by idling while tolerating their immoral behaviors. Similarly, though unsuccessful, Abraham did not tolerate the sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as God declared destruction on the city, instead; because of his love for them, He actively bargained with God pleading for God to spare the city. Genesis 18:27-28 reads, “Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?’ ‘If I find forty-five there,’ he[God] said, ‘“I will not destroy it.’”
In contrast to tolerance, love is active, love takes risk, love sets boundaries, and love makes sacrifices.

The power of Love
The reason why Jesus calls us to focus on love rather than tolerance(as there are cases when being tolerant is appropriate) is that love is more powerful when compared to tolerance. People change, feel better connected, and are empowered to be their best when they are loved, not when they feel tolerated. The women at the well ran ecstatically sharing about her encounter with Jesus not because He tolerated her, but because He loved her (John 4:1-42). Peter returned to Jesus after denying Him 3 times not because of the power of tolerance that Jesus showed but because of the love that Jesus had shared(John 21:17). Paul once Saul, did not convert from a Christian killer to a soul saver because He felt that God tolerated Him but because of his Damascus road experience in which he felt the raw power of the love of Jesus(Acts 9:1-7). Love has great power that tolerance does not.

Martin Luther King acted in love and therefore was in great power when he turned the other cheek(Matthew 5:39). While being hated by his fellow Americans he was not passively tolerant of the situation, but actively loving those who hated him and taking a risk to make things better, while still seeking their best interest by being nonviolent. The power of love is also greatly exhibited in the crucifixion moment.When Jesus was dying on the cross we saw that He was not passively tolerant while they beat and tortured Him, instead; Jesus was actively loving the world. Luke 23:34 reads, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Also while Jesus was on the cross He did not lay there tolerating the situation but was still working in love, and saved a final soul as He welcomed the thief into paradise (Luke 23:43).

Results of the analysis

As the light of Jesus shines on tolerance, we can quickly see from our scrutiny and detailed examination that it is no substitute for love, and would be classified as a counterfeit if it was ever used as a substitute for love. This is why the power within us(The Holy Spirit) defines His fruits as (love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control(Galatians 5:22)). The Holy Spirit is not described with the fruits of tolerance(ignore, conform, permit, forget, allow, avoid, etc).

Speaking of the works of the flesh, which describes the devil, Galatians 5:19 reads, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Seeing the nature of the devil described above, it would make sense that his counterfeit to love, would be something that would allow his nature to spread. The devil wants us to tolerate a whole range of sinful behaviors because he wants to spread his nature(sexual immorality, discord, witchcraft, etc) to all. However God’s nature is different. God’s nature is love (1 John 4:8) and He wants to spread love. Tolerance is not in the nature of God because God is Holy and therefore He does not tolerate sin( 1 Peter 1:16), however; God is very loving and merciful and long suffering, so He is patience with us, not condoning our sins, but lovingly waiting for us to turn to Him(2 Peter 3:9). Likewise God desires His children(us) to love everyone because we will draw them closer to Him(God) through love.

Let’s get to work
We are to love everyone just like Jesus did, regardless of their race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, profession, and even their character. God did not create people for us to passively tolerate them as they walk on the board road to destruction(Matthew 7:13), instead; God wants His children to all be loved into life. Jesus said, if I be lifted up from the earth, I’ll draw all men unto me( John 12:32). Let us lift up the name of Jesus by loving others. To love you have to be vulnerable(you may be hurt), you have to take risk, you have to step out of your comfort zone, you have to set boundaries, make sacrifices, and you have to be willing to be hated. God did not choose to stay in His perfect heaven and tolerate sin. No! God instead chose love. God chose to get uncomfortable by putting on human flesh. He chose to make sacrifices by enduring great pain and torture, and He did it all so that we could realize His love for us, and willingly change and leave our life of sin(which leads to death) for the eternal life that He offers. God wants us to love because love(God’s nature) allows the power of the Holy Spirit to spread, while simply tolerating evil is a trap(counterfeit) by which the devil desires to have his the nature spread.

Billy Graham is quoted as saying, “It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love.” And Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Let us do our job of loving others and when people are pulled to Jesus because of the love we have shown them, He(Jesus) will not reject them, but will accept them just as they are, and transform them into just who He wants them to be.

With Love and Blessings,