Hello again from Awakening Youth Ministries!
This past Sunday was Part 3 in our “VS. The Battle is Won” Series. The title of the message was “Tolerance VS. Love”. The word “tolerance” is obviously a huge buzzword in today’s society. The growing view is, “the world would be a better place if we would all just learn to be tolerant of one another. Tolerance, as our society has come to view it, means blindly accepting everything about another person. We’re told not to question anyone’s choices or behaviors because it’s their life, and we don’t have the right to say what they’re doing is wrong.
The truth is, we do not have the right to tell others how to live, but we do have the God-given responsibility as followers of Christ to let them know that there is a better way. When we get to the point that we accept the sin in the world we can no longer love the world as Christ loves the world. Tolerance puts up with people but it does not have the power to transform lives; however, that is exactly what the love of God does.
We looked at the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-9,
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zaccheus was hated among the Jews because he sold them out to work for the Roman government as a tax collector. We see in the story that the crowd “put up” with Zaccheus being there with them because they knew that there was nothing that they could do about it. Many times, it’s easy for is to fall into the same trap. We may put up with people that we don’t like as well as people who are different than us, but we make no effort to show them the life-changing love of God.
Jesus didn’t ignore Zaccheus. He loved him. We’re not told what was said during the time that Jesus spent at Zaccheus’ house, but whatever it was radically transformed Zaccheus and the way he lived his life.
What I believe the world is missing is this— simply tolerating and agreeing with someone DOES NOT mean that you love them, and disagreeing with someone while encouraging them to reevaluate their choices DOES NOT mean that you hate them! We hear many times, Jesus loved/loves everybody and so should you! That statement is 100% correct! We are called to love everybody. We in no way, shape, or form should show hatred or mistreat anyone in the name of religion.
With that being said, keep this in mind. The love Jesus had for us was so strong that it prompted him to die on the cross to restore the broken relationship that OUR sin caused. This shows us that while God loves us unconditionally, he also does not tolerate sin. This is the same way we are to approach the people around us. Like we mentioned at the beginning of this post, “While it is not our RIGHT to tell others how to live, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to show those living in sin that there is a better way to live. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Our prayer is that we will all love others as Christ loves us while not tolerating/accepting the sin in the world. The well-known quote from Mahatma Gandhi says, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.
Don’t simply tolerate! Love as God loves us and change the world!
See you Sunday (4/10/16) for the final part of the series— “Justice VS. Mercy”!