Monday, May 6, 2013

Tolerance, Christianity, and Being Politically Correct

 It seems that the 21st century comes with some pretty strong "buzz words", such as "tolerance" and being "politically correct".  The concept of being politically correct actually began prior to the beginning of this century but it did not have as strong a negative connotation as it does today.  At first it was applied to changing how we used certain terminology such as handicapped/disabled. We were told that it was offensive to call someone handicapped.  It was more appropriate to say they were disabled.  I am disabled and I never have understood the problem with saying I am handicapped.  I can remember in the 1990's what a big fuss was made over the signage on doors to public buildings, restrooms, and parking spaces if they were not changed quickly enough from handicapped to disabled. We were never to say that someone "had a handicap."  Instead it was very important that we say they "had a disability."  There were other words and phrases that we were expected to change as well.  None of them really seemed to make any real impact however.  At least it didn't seem to at the time.  
On television and in the movies, it was suddenly a joke about how we all had to start speaking in politically correct ways.  Gradually, with the more words and phrases that we were expected to change, we were being told we were "intolerant" if we refused.  Suddenly the new buzz word was "tolerance".  Comedians on the late night talk shows were constantly making jokes about what was and wasn't politically correct and what was and wasn't showing proper tolerance.
Along the way it became apparent that all these new rules were focused at Christians.  Anything any Christian said anywhere in the country was judged as to whether or not it met the new politically correct tolerance.  Christians really tried to work with all of the impossible standards that were being put upon them.  What was never really understood at the time was why.  Why were Christians the targets of all this new system?  All we knew was that suddenly nothing we did was right.  It didn't matter if we had friends and even family members that were of different races than we were.  We were being called racist no matter what we did.  It didn't matter if we had gay friends or family members.  We were called "homophobic", "judgmental", and guilty of hating our fellow citizens.  Suddenly Christians became the most intolerant people in the world.
Now let me say this before I go on to my main points.  Many Christians, and those who call themselves Christians but don't even know what it means to be Christian, have not done much to help the situation.  Christianity has to be the most misunderstood "religion" in the world. First of all, to clarify just what being a Christian means according to the Bible which Christians consider to be the Word of God, to be a Christian means that one has been born again into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Being a Christian is not about what church you go to or grew up going to, or what your parents' beliefs are, or even what country you were born in. A true Christian believer does not consider their faith to be a religion.  Mankind has created religion.  Christianity is a relationship.  Therefore, because of the misunderstanding of the meaning of Christianity and who is or isn't Christian, there has been a lot of confusion as to what is or isn't Christian behavior.  However, even those who have lived their lives following Biblical principles, in general, know what is right and wrong in most situations.  But being human, whether we are Christian, or of some other faith, we each and every one of us make mistakes.  Christians are told emphatically in the Bible that we are not to judge anyone other than ourselves so that we will not be judged.  Unfortunately, there is much misunderstanding even within the Christian community about the difference between passing judgement upon others and being what some Christians call "fruit inspectors."  You see, we are told in the Bible that we can often tell a person's relationship with Christ by looking at the fruit they have produced or that has been produced in their lives.  But the problem here comes when these same Christians forget just what that fruit is and start "inspecting" things we ought not to.  Galatians 5:22 spells it out clearly for us this way: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith."  Therefore the only fruit we are to be inspecting at all are these.  When Christians go overboard into judging actions and behaviors we see in others and start finger-pointing we are only hurting ourselves and giving our brothers and sisters in Christ a bad reputation.  So, in being human like all other humans, we judge when we are not supposed to judge.  And we give Christianity a black eye in the process.  We, as Christians, are to love each other, and our neighbors in the same way that Jesus Christ loved us when He laid His life down for us. Jesus made it very clear when He told one of the Pharisees, one who happened to be a lawyer, that in Mat 22:37-40: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The Bible gives us God's definition of love and many people already know it because they use this passage in weddings all over the world. God says of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (the word "charity" is translated also as "love")
"4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
According to the definition of the word "tolerance" is as follows:


a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.
Medicine/Medical, Immunology .
the power of enduring or resisting the action of a drug, poison, etc.: a tolerance to antibiotics.
the lack of or low levels of immune response to transplanted tissue or other foreign substance that is normally immunogenic.
1375–1425; late Middle English  < Latin tolerantia.  See tolerant, -ance
non·tol·er·ance, noun
o·ver·tol·er·ance, noun

1, 2. patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness.  
Tolerance , toleration agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. Tolerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities.  Toleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord: toleration of graft.
There is no intolerance in the kind of love God calls all Christians to have for all man-kind. However Christians are just the same as every other human in this world.  Christians screw up on a daily basis.  So does every other human being in this world.  We all mess up.  We all judge our neighbors, our friends, our family members, strangers, even those we have never met before.  But that is not what makes us Christians.  That is our failing as Christians.  
So why is there this push in our country and around the world to charge Christians with intolerance?  Why is there such a move in this country to make the Christian life-style not politically correct?

The answers to these questions are also in the Bible.  The problem is, the world in general doesn't want to turn to the Bible for those answers.  Many who call themselves Christians do not even read their own Bibles, if they even have their own Bibles.  Many who call themselves Christians do not have anyone that they learn about Christianity from.  They believe they are Christian simply because that is what their parents and grandparents were but not because they have come to any kind of personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Jesus told us that the only way to be saved was to be born again and He explains that when he speaks to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21.  Simply put, being born again means to accept and believe that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, born of a virgin, gave His life as payment of our sin debt when He was crucified on the cross, died, was buried, and rose again on the third day.  When we believe this, confess it with our mouths, and accept His free gift of salvation, then we are born again believers and true Christians.  It is not a religion, but it has had a religion made out of it.  It is an individual personal relationship.  The church of Jesus Christ was never meant to be the organized business that it has become today.  It was meant to be the body of Christ reaching out to a world in need of love. It was meant to be a fellowship of believers helping and supporting each other in love and friendship and passing on the love of Jesus Christ to everyone around us.  

In the Bible we are told that Satan is the enemy of God, the enemy of all His believing followers. Satan wants only to destroy us all and become like God in power and control.  But God does not control people.  God gives people the freedom of choice.  Satan on the other hand does not want anyone to have free choice.  So he goes about confusing the world and getting the world to believe that it is all the Christians and Jews who are the problem.  It is the Christians and Jews who are intolerant, racist, and now extremists and even domestic terrorists, according to those who have chosen not to believe in a kind and loving God.  But why does the world fall for this?

When a person is confronted face to face with the holiness of the One True God, that person comes face to face with his/her own sin nature.  It is impossible not to.  Sin cannot stand in the presence of holiness.  This is not to say that Christians are pure and holy and without sin.  No.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, Christians need to purify themselves daily, to cleanse themselves from their daily sins.  Christians will not be fully purified and holy until they meet the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.  But when non-believers come in contact with believers, that representation of Jesus Christ in the believer's lives stands up like a mirror reflecting back on the non-believer.  The problem is that many Christians are out there passing judgement in the name of being fruit inspectors and instead of showing non-believers the love of God, they are coming off as the intolerant haters that the world sees.  They are playing right into the devil's hands.  When the love of God shines through instead of judgement, evil cannot stand.  We don't have to judge others.  That is not our job.  That is God's job.  And the only fruit we should really be inspecting is our own.  How do we measure up when it comes to the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives?  IF all true believers in Jesus Christ did that, we might begin to see revival in this country and in the world.  The truth is that in many other countries around the world, there is revival.  People are coming to Christ by the thousands.  It used to be that the United States was the major country sending missionaries to the world.  Now the world is sending missionaries to us.  What a sad commentary for American Christians today.

We have been tempted by technology.  We have succumbed to the gadgets and electronic toys, the cars, houses, and everything else that the world has to offer us today.  We have neglected our God-given duties to love each other and help each other in exchange for money and time spent on everything from the latest greatest cell phones to plasma screen televisions to the hottest car on the market.  When we see someone in need we judge them as being someone scamming us for our money when they don't really need it.  We look at the homeless in our country and we turn our backs on them.  We see people on welfare and we judge them harshly when we don't even have a clue what put them there or how difficult it is to get off welfare once they get on it.  We are a people, all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike, who judge others so harshly that we would not be able to stand if we were to be judged that way in return.  We see a mother with small children using food stamps at the store but she also has a nice cell phone so we judge her and say she has no right to have food stamps if she can afford that phone.  Yet how do we know she paid for that phone or the contract to use it?  How do we know it wasn't a gift provided by a caring friend or family member trying to help her out?  The Bible tells Christians not to judge others so that we ourselves won't be judged.  The Bible tells us that we will receive back the same measure that we measure out to others.  That covers all things, not just money and goods.  That covers attitudes, behaviors, everything we do and say.  When we judge others, it comes back on us.  God is not mocked.  

What is happening in this country today could be something that maybe we deserve.  We have allowed things to get all screwed up.  Is there time to fix it?  Is there time for America to be restored to the nation under God that she once was?  I don't know.  What I do know is that, according to the Bible, the end is near.  The time is coming soon when Jesus will come for His true Bride, the true believers who have that personal relationship with Him.  The time is coming soon when the antichrist will cause a 7 year peace agreement to be signed between Israel and her enemies.  The time is coming when the world will be fully immersed in what the Bible calls the Great Tribulation, tribulation such as the world has never known before.  The time is coming when at the end of that tribulation Jesus Christ will once again return to this earth and rule over the whole world.  Satan will get one last attempt only to be permanently defeated forever.  What is our call during this time?  We are to do the same thing God has called us to do since the beginning.  We are to love Him, and love each other.  The devil is the one causing the trouble against Christianity today.  The devil is the one pushing for political correctness and calling Christians intolerant.  Yet it is also the devil who is the most intolerant of Christians and the government of this country that was established by God to provide freedom to its citizens.  There is spiritual warfare going on today such as has never happened before.  But in this war we are still called to love.  

Now it is in your hands what you will choose to do.


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