Tolerance can be just as dangerous as intolerance. I don’t think Jesus was tolerant at all. He was just loving. Sometimes today’s Christians confuse tolerance with love. We have a really bad habit of being tolerant; while at he same time not showing love. We’ve forgotten that wherever there is love, there will be tolerance, and tolerance brought about by the correct motives will always lead us to the love of our brothers, sisters, and enemies as we love ourselves thus fulfilling one of God’s greatest commandments.
Love has to be the backbone of all we do. Love for the father and love for us is what motivated Christ to move beyond tolerance, dying on the cross. He thought of us as worthy of more than just being tolerated.
I think of how Jesus lovingly restored Peter. After Peter had so unlovingly denied Him 3 times. Peter sounds like the kind of guy, as do all the disciples at times that deserve just to be tolerated. Sometimes in our approach with others whether that be Christians or not, we seek just to be tolerant instead of being loving. Jesus sought to love Peter first, not to tolerate him. Jesus never settled for mere tolerance….tolerance is never enough. It misses the point, and he knew it. Tolerance will never motivate us to go the extra mile. In the sermon on the mount Jesus reminds us of this by saying the following: “and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Tolerance would never allow for us to love the homeless drug addicted beggar for exactly he is, tolerance never allow for us to sit in silence and just listen as our atheist friends deny the existence of God…to walk the extra mile. Our tolerance is partially the reason why we find ourselves defending God with our words, instead of reflecting him with our actions; loving others just as he did.
As Paul so aptly stated “Tolerance can sometimes be confused with indifference. Tolerance must give way to tenacious love that overwhelms the forces of indifference, intolerance, and hate. Only then can we live into Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community and the common good, which for him was bound up with his faith in Jesus his uncommon Lord.” God in his tenacious love for us sent his son to live life with us, ultimately dying for us. The end goal was never tolerance, but love, restoration, redemption, salvation. Our action plans, methods and conversations must be reflective of the love of Christ…His love them.
In Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham jail he writes this ” in some not to distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” This kind of love frees us from fear, and move us beyond the duty of tolerance. This kind of love is what I want to lavish upon others. I want this kind of love to be my first response…innate to my everyday life and visible to those that share the faith as I do, and those that don’t. God lavishes his blessing on the just and unjust, and he loves us all beyond measure.