Tolerance. It is becoming a difficult word in a difficult world. Every time I scroll through social media I see posts, articles and pictures demanding our tolerance of different social issues. You know what those issues are as well as I do – those controversial issues that rock the boat. Those issues that leave you walking on dangerous ground. Those issues that cause you to fear you might upturn the boat, sink the boat. I’m just going to say it. Those issues like gender identity, the LGBTQIA+ community, women’s rights versus the rights of an unborn child. Those issues.
To navigate the world today, tolerance is key. It’s expected of us. It’s demanded of us. Even when it goes against the very core of what what we believe in. Even when it breaks our hearts and leaves us confused and unsure of what to do, what to say, what to believe.
Right now I live in a country that by the charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms allows all Canadians the following fundamental freedoms.
Section 2 lists what the Charter calls “fundamental freedoms” namely freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and of other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.
Freedom of religion. According to the charter, that means the following:
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance without government influence or intervention. It also includes the freedom to change one’s religion or belief. Freedom of religion is considered by many people and most of the nations to be a fundamental human right.
Unfortunately, all that means is that I’m allowed to attend church and meet socially with my Christian friends and family to worship God, without government interference. Because if you look on Wikipedia for an explanation, you get this.
Freedom of religion does not persecute believers in other faiths. Freedom of belief is different. It allows the right to believe what a person, group or religion wishes, but it does not necessarily allow the right to practice the religion or belief openly and outwardly in a public manner.
Do we really have freedom of belief? Because where I’m standing, it sure doesn’t look like it.
I remember being in a doctor’s office waiting, mindlessly watching what was on TV. A few ladies were arguing over something current on a program called The View. One of the women started to share something but was interrupted by another, trying to get her to shut up. She slammed her hand down on the table and said No. She said it didn’t seem fair that she was required to tolerate all the things they were sharing, not to interrupt them or put them down…but the second she opened her mouth to talk about Jesus, the rules didn’t apply. Christianity wasn’t tolerated. And just like that, Candace Cameron Bure put Raven Simone in her place. You go, girl.
Even though I don’t typically watch The View, I do know that it wasn’t long after that episode that Candace left the show. As a professing Christian in Hollywood, she sure does handle a lot of negativity for her views. But then, don’t all Christians?
We live in a culture that openly tolerates (read: supports and encourages) many things that we as Christians can’t support and encourage. We don’t support and encourage these things because they go against the core of our beliefs. We live in a country that has crossed the line between moral and immoral, between sinfulness and godliness. We live in a country that persecutes Christianity – if you don’t agree with their set moral standards, you pay for it. I never thought living in a “free” country would be like this.
But then, that’s what God intended. It seems strange to think that way. But it’s the truth – this isn’t our home. But while we live here we have one important mission – to go out into the world and spread the Good News. The news that Christ died for sinners.
Even though I find it it’s disheartening to be here in this world right now, even though it discourages me deeply that we are encouraged to tolerate everything, yet we as Christians are not tolerated. Even still, we are to be the light. We are to be the ones who stand out, the ones who are different. We are the ones who are to extend the love of Christ to others. Even when it’s hard.
Suddenly I realized I’ve built myself a brick wall between my beliefs and the world. Thinking I’ll be safe over here behind this wall – as long as I don’t say anything or offend anyone. But I look at my wall and I realize it’s not what Jesus would do. And if I keep layering brick on top of brick, how will His light shine through?
The tricky, sticky thing is that if Jesus were here on the earth right now He wouldn’t be avoiding these people. He wouldn’t avoid these issues. He would be reaching out to them in love. Reaching out to them in forgiveness. And so should we be. Even when it’s hard, even when we are discouraged and frustrated at everything that is the world right now. Because the fact of the matter is, right now the world just needs Jesus.
For this is how God loved the world : He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
God STILL loves the world. He doesn’t love the sin, but He loves the people. And while I was thinking about this the other day, frustrated over yet another issue to tolerate, I was moved. Because God sees my sin, and He still loves me. So how am I any different from all these other people? I’m not, and neither are you. I desperately need Jesus, every day. And so do they. Yes, tolerance can be frustrating when it goes against what I believe in. But love is stronger than frustration. God’s love can make a way. It can break through. And sometimes, God uses His people to do it.
I don’t have perfect answers. This isn’t a self-help blog that will deliver the miracle idea of how to deal with hard issues. This is just a girl, who desperately wants to share Jesus with people who need Him. A girl fighting with herself to be part of the city on a hill. A girl who recognizes we can replace tolerance with love, because Love covers a multitude of sins.
Brick by brick, I’m tearing down walls to make room for Love. It’s not always easy. But the more the bricks fall, the more His light shines.