I write tonight out of a lot of built up thoughts and emotions regarding some current events. I write in honesty. I write knowing full well that someone, or maybe several people, who read this will find me as the very thing I am writing about. I am aware that some people will pre-judge me. I’m aware that some already have. I will not go into the specific events, as the events alone are not the reason or focus for this post and thus not something I feel like debating.
I have seen a trend lately that if someone disagrees with you on any level such as religious belief, sexual orientation, behavior, political view or otherwise, in their disagreement it then almost automatically makes them a person lacking in respect, tolerance, or love and in turn making them a bigot.
Let’s get one thing very clear from the start of this post: just because I may disagree with you about a behavior (s), lifestyle, decision, voting party or whatever else, it does not mean I think of you as less than a person. It does not mean I find you inferior. It does not mean I am holier than you. It does not mean God hates you. Religious people can find enough reasons to judge and condemn someone for not believing the same thing as them. So can anyone else. That is where I find the problem.
I am a Christian. I know what I believe spiritually, Biblically, politically, and why I believe such things. I back things with scripture and prayer. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am opinionated, blunt, and honest. I’m fine with being defined as such. However, I can disagree with, be opinionated about, and honest towards any person or subject matter with grace, love, and compassion. I think that is the Biblical approach according to Christ.
He always loved first.
This is exactly where I have found fault on Christians, Christians that continually walk in ways that go against God’s heart, design or calling and justify such behavior by saying God loves them. Period. I see it all the time with the ministry I work with in xxxChurch. Our slogan is “Jesus Loves Porn Stars”. Granted we know the slogan is catchy, intriguing and potentially sacrilegious, but more than anything, we believe it is indeed true. We also know that people will try to think, “Oh great, he loves me. I can still live however I want and still walk in His love”. Just because Jesus loved first does not mean that’s where His love ended.
There is another side of Jesus, the side people like to ignore more often. He went to the Temple and over turned the tables of people that were corrupt. He flipped over tables of the money changers because they withheld money and abused their position. He flipped over the tables of those offering animals for sacrifice, all the while giving unclean, blemished, or wrong [according to their laws] animals. He was mad at the greed. He was saddened at the compromise. He was livid at the deceit. And he let them all know that he disagreed. He was also Jesus [trump card!] and acted out against the religious, not the secular culture.
You can then look at another Jesus story and see how graciously, lovingly, and compassionately he was toward the Samaritan woman. She was a woman, harlot [or in our world, a slut], an adulterer, a liar, and probably other things. Not to mention she was of a half-breed race that “good” Jews avoided. Yet Jesus sat there and loved her in spite of disagreeing with her.
I wish Christians could be an example to our culture, one that is drilling the idea of tolerance into our brains, and then yelling at us [or anyone else] if we disagree with someone because of __________ [fill in the blank]. I wish that in our disagreement, other Christians, un-churched, and the rest of culture would see people that, in spite of disagreement, would still be loving toward others. That we would exemplify Christ’s love for the world. Tolerance is a word that I hate. It is, by the definition of the majority, a word that describes accepting and loving people no matter what, yet it is intolerant of anyone with different opinions, regardless if they are religiously based or not.
So to you, the reader, I ask that you understand something very close to my heart. God loves you. No matter what Christians say, no matter what culture says, no matter what family says, no matter what politics say. God loves you. I’m sorry if someone has mistreated you or done anything to make you feel like you are less than worthy of his love, especially in the name of God or religion. But I am not sorry if I disagree with you on any of the things I have already mentioned. I am not sorry if I disagree with you because my faith and religious belief [really dislike that word] contradicts your lifestyle, behavior, attitude, etc. Even if I disagree with you, know that I still love you. I still believe God loves you. And I still believe that you matter.
Living out love is tolerance. Agreement does not equate tolerance. Let’s not get those two confused.