1. The Bible and Tolerance

Top 10 Ways the Bible Changed My Life: 1. The Bible Actually Made Me More Tolerant

I had to start with this one because I know it contradicts the current mainstream thought regarding religion. But that’s because I believe people often misconstrue tolerance and acceptance…with condoning. Hate the sin…not the sinner. 

In reading the Bible in its entirety, not just pieces, you’re finally able to see the big picture. You’re able to see what’s happening, what happened, and what’s going to happen. And because I believe with conviction, I’m able to tolerate different points of view with the lens of a spectator, the lens of a Witness…part of the world, yet taking no part in the world.

In reading the Bible you come to understand that nothing happens by accident. God creates the good days and the bad days. There’s logic and reason, cause and effect. If you believe and trust in God, an almighty entity that created human existence and could wipe us all out in an instant, do you really think he needs you fight his battles for him? 

Or are you just using his name to fight your own personal battle? Allow me to illustrate.  

Last year I delved into Red Pill Philosophy that talked about the differences between Men and Women. There’s an underground movement called “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW) and I confess, I found myself sympathizing with the concept of giving up on romance and long-term relationships.

A female friend went on Reddit and started reading some of the most sexist and misogynistic posts from MGTOW men talking all kinds of crap about women. She called me up as if to say, “See! These people are bad, so you shouldn’t even consider their opinions!” 

I told her… “Missy, you’re on Reddit. If you go looking for the worst of any movement or organization, you’re going to find it. The assholes and lowest dredges of that philosophy don’t speak for everyone the same way people who misuse religion don’t speak for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, or Catholic Priests who prey on little boys.”  

From the Spanish Inquisition, to Bloody Mary and heretics being burned at the stake, Christianity has taken a bad rap for being one of the most bigoted and intolerant religions on the planet. The KKK had a burning cross as their symbol. And so many violent gang members like Crips and Bloods and Latin Kings have the crucifix tattooed across their bodies all while stealing, raping, and killing.  

Could it be…that so many Christians are “Christian” in name only? Even if they espouse that they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior…do they even know what that means?  

“What does all this have to do with being tolerant, Rock?” 

Love…In reading the Bible you come to understand God’s character and why Jesus Christ died for us. It was out of love. At John 15:13, Jesus explains that the greatest form of love is sacrificial love, the laying down of one’s own life for someone else.  

All of us. The believers and non-believers alike, are all sinners. Even on the cross, dying in excruciating pain, Jesus talked about forgiving his killers. At anytime, Jesus could have been like, “You know what, enough of this..” and sent a pack of lions to ravage the mobs. He could have sent a windstorm to bring the roof down over Pontius Pilate’s head. Instead, out his love for us, he died. He sacrificed his own life so that we could have a chance at everlasting life.  

If you believe in Him, our Lord…what would compel you to pick up a rock and stone two men you see kissing, using Jesus’s name to do it? What would compel you to tie a black man to the back of a truck and drag him because he was dating a white woman? What would compel you to light an entire family on fire because they refused to believe in God? Is this what Jesus preached? Is this what God wanted us to do? 

If you’re confused about what’s written in the Old Testament as opposed to the New, reading the Bible answers those questions. And I can tell you right now, the answer is a resounding no. He broke bread with sinners and reached out to them with love and kindness. When asked “Why are you doing this?” Jesus answered, “A physician doesn’t come to heal the healthy, but to heal the sick.” (Luke 5:27-32) 

Jesus sought out the sinners to try and get them to repent. He couldn’t have done this if he was an intolerant bigot. 

The Difference Between Tolerance and Condoning

I think the misconception a lot of people have is their blending of “acceptance” and “tolerance”. If I see two men kissing a couple of tables away from me, I’m not going to reach out and attack them. At the same time, I’m not going to smile and applaud that behavior like, “Aw! Good for you!” 

If the Bible teaches us about what kind of people won’t enter the Kingdom of God, what kind of friend would I be to encourage and celebrate behavior that leads to their ruin? (1st Corinthians 6:9-13) 

Yes, you could say, “well that’s they’re choice and we should accept it.”  

I do. I don’t go out of my way to make anyone feel bad for their choices or the way they’re living life UNLESS they ask for my opinion or it’s becoming clear that they really want to be a part of my world (like a close friend or loved one)  

And even when they do ask, I’d do my best to teach them what God says on the matter and let them decide for themselves if they want to continue living life the way they do. That’s their responsibility, not mine. In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul teaches that we will all be judged as individuals based on our own convictions. If I believe this…why would I be upset or indignant when I see people doing the wrong thing?  

The answer is because we’re humans. We’re taught to have love and compassion for others. If you see others walking down a path that God disapproves of, I believe every Christian on earth has a reason to feel a bit of sadness. Our anger isn’t towards the individual, but towards the Great Adversary and his mechanisms that influenced the individual to indulge in sin.

In reading the Bible, I really learned how to love the sinner and not the sin. It was tough at first because Satan has made it so that too many have embraced their sins to the point that they had pride in it.

But that’s alright. Looking through the colors and emblems and parades and parties, I see loving, kind, and beautiful individuals. I see mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. I see heroes and caregivers. I see some of the most generous people you’d ever meet. And I see more people I’d trust with my heart than I would with other’s who merely want Christ’s teaching to conform to their lives instead of conforming their lives to Christ’s teachings.

People are more than just whatever they identify as. Like jewels, they’re multi-faceted. Just like I am not 100% one thing, neither are they. 

This is where our tolerance comes into play. The Bible has plenty of examples where killers, prostitutes, drunkards, and even those who disobeyed God often repented and received his grace. In the first chapter of Matthew, Rahab, a prostitute, is honored by being mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

This, of course, doesn’t condone prostitution. But the point is, it’s not our place to say a sinner is going straight to hell or can’t be saved. We don’t know God’s plan. Nor do we know what’s stirring in the heart of a person who wants to do what’s good in God’s eyes, but they’re struggling, Satan’s got his claws in deep. The most we can do is show people the scriptures and teach them the Truth. Whether God chooses these people or not will be made self-evident by the person’s choices, by their repentance.

As Christians living in these modern progressive times, we of all people should know how it feels to live in fear of persecution for our beliefs. They say the workplace is no place for religion…but it’s okay for those other things? If the argument is that “not everyone believes the way you do…” I ask, what if I don’t agree with what you all are celebrating? And what if what you’re celebrating goes against what I believe?

At one company, they had a special interest group for just about every political identity except Christianity. They use to wave a massive 50ft banner from the walkway where you had no choice but to see it before coming in to work. Like, you’d have to see it. You couldn’t ignore it. Every day you’d have to see a big rainbow colored flag above the workplace entrance regardless whether you agreed with what it stood for or not.

But still…the workplace is no place for religion…as if God didn’t have a hand in creating that workplace, or us, or the entire world.

Why Would it Bother Anyone At All?

Before I read the Bible in its entirety, such things would bother the French toast out of me. And I think I know why. Essentially, it does boil down to jealousy. And envy gives birth to hate and acrimony.

Think about it. If you go to a school surrounded by all the other children who talk about a party they’re constantly going to. Every day’s a party where you can do whatever you want, indulge in whatever you want, have fun. You only live once! YOLO!

But the problem is, your parents are telling you that it’s not good for you to go. In fact, everyone’s parents are saying it. If you’re the only one who heeds your parents advice, but you don’t know why they’re saying you can’t go, its understandable why you might feel a little jealous when you see the girl you like hooking up with that one dude just because they went to the same party. It’s understandable to feel like you’re missing out because all everyone’s ever talking about is how much fun they had at that party.

And worse, every day when you go to school, they’re showing you videos and music they listened to at this party, displaying all kinds of behaviors that your parents lectured you not to indulge in. You can’t avoid it. It’s everywhere. You’re called lame, a stick-in-the-mud and an idiot for listening to your parents. It’d be easy to hate them all, if you don’t even know why your parents told you why you couldn’t go to that party or indulge in the seemingly harmless fun everyone else is getting to. You might even hate your parents for holding you back.

But once you sit down and actually read the Bible, you learn about the “why”. Your eyes are opened to what’s going to happen to all of your peers who didn’t listen to their parents. Your eyes are opened to all the blessings and rewards awaiting you for obeying your parents commands. As a human, you start to feel sorry for peers. You start loving them more, and hating the person who created the party in the first place.

And as you go to school, walking among your peers who don’t know what’s going to happen or don’t believe it, no matter what insult or mockery they hit you with. No matter how alone, neglected, and rejected you feel. You’re able to keep walking with your head up. You’re able to tolerate and endure it all.  

Rappers and singers promote a culture of robbing, murdering, and sexual immorality…the art of making bad things appear cool. Lovers of money and pleasure appear to live the good life. Those who cheat and abuse women still have women pining after them to the point that they’d fight and kill off other suitors just to keep that one abusive man.

Meanwhile you’re doing your best to do what’s good in God’s eyes and you’re seen as boring. Social movements have abolished the old ways of chivalry and the classy lady, so what do you do? 

You have hope. You tell the world, “Yeah, no thanks. I don’t worship men or women, I worship the living God who’s name is Jehovah.”

When people mock you by saying things like, “Oh, so you worship that imaginary being in the sky?”

Personally, I can’t help but smirk, thinking about what young David said when he was about to face Goliath. “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

When you read the Bible in earnest, from cover to cover, you come to understand that Jesus and the prophets of old have foretold that things would be this way.  

In Matthew 6:5, Jesus spoke about the hypocrites who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. He tells us that they have received their reward in full, here and now, by those they receive praise and admiration from. This is their treasure they’re getting here and now.  

I opine that popular opinion and mainstream culture has become a religion in of itself. Their apostles (messengers) are celebrities and their savior is money, sex, and worldly success.  

But as for us Christians, Verse 24 warns “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 

He tells us, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all things will be added onto you.” (verse 33) 

When you read scriptures like that and believe that good things await if you just persevere and hold on to your faith, it really does make it easier for you to tolerate others. They’ve made their choice. You’re making yours.

Consider what “tolerance” means. If you read the definition, you might find that true Christians are actually more tolerant than Progressive Millennials who protests with banners and loudspeakers. 

What is Tolerance?

Tolerance is the ability or willingness to indulge the beliefs, opinions, or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.  

So tell me. Who’s more tolerant? Someone saying that hate speech shouldn’t exist and anyone who says a particular word or espouses a particular belief should be fired from their jobs and their companies boycotted? Or is it the person who loves and cares for people they disagree with, still wishing the best for them and open to hearing what they believe and think?  

When I was twenty-two, way back before I even picked up the Bible, my co-worker Chris had some strong racial opinions and was always making fun of stereotypes. There I was, a young black man listening to a white man talk about the flaws of Affirmative Action and the hypocrisy of their accusations of racism. 

When I was twenty-nine, in the midst of my Christian Conversion, I watched the interview between three renowned Atheists. They spoke well and had a lot of insight, possessing more knowledge about the Bible and Christianity than it seemed a lot of other self-proclaimed Christians had. And yet they did not believe. It was tough to listen to their arguments and when one of them said, “teaching children about Christianity is child abuse,” I just about lost it.  

But still…I tolerated their views to learn. And I respect them for their educated opinions even though I clearly disagree. I don’t think they should be fired. I won’t say they’re going to hell or they can’t be saved. I wish them no harm and if I ever saw them in public, I won’t throw the Bible at them or ram my beliefs down their throat out of retaliation. But if they did ask for my opinion, out of love, I would show them the Holy Scriptures. 

“But look, Rock! They’re trying to shove the gay agenda down our throats with all these TV shows!” 

Then, don’t watch it. 

“Listen to this, Rock. All these women are booty clapping to songs that are so degrading and belittling to women.”  

You don’t have to be one of them. Turn it off.  

“Look, Rock! He’s rich. He’s traveling and posting pictures from some of the most beautiful places in the world. Don’t you want that too!”  

Sure.  

“Then you need to go out there and get that money! You need to climb the corporate ladder! You need a better paying job!”  

I’m good.  

“You’re letting your life pass you by!” 

That’s not true. Every single day, I’m drawing closer to God, seeking to put him first. Which is actually prolonging my life and securing a life beyond this one. God’s blessed me to be a man of simple pleasures. I’m doing what I love, which is reading, writing, and working out. 

“Seriously, Rock. What makes you think anyone will want to be a part of that life?” 

Well…clearly not you. And that’s alright. Can you imagine? Here I am trying to live a life I love and enjoy while surrounded by people like you, trying to make me into something I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I tried being something I’m not by stepping outside my comfort zone plenty of times in my 20s. But in my 30s, I know who I am. Can you tolerate that? Can you accept it?

“Yeah, Rock. Well there are some Christians out here who aren’t as tolerant as you. And they use the Bible to look down on others.” 

Even if there are bad people out there who are intolerant towards others…what are YOU going to do? If someone cuts you off, are you going to cut someone else off just because that last jerk did it to you? Or will you practice what you preach and have the strength to do the right thing regardless.  

On a personal level, I think my own tolerance comes from the fact that I’ll never forget my own resistance to religion and the Bible. For years, I hated religion. I just wasn’t ready for it. It wasn’t until the age of 28 that I fully believe God reached out to me. He could have left me out in the world, full of the spite and hate and resentment I harbored from my upbringing. But he reached out to me and drew me closer. 

Which is why I try my best to never lose hope that any one of you can be saved as well, no matter how far you’ve fallen, no matter how much you deny, no matter how you neglect. In the early chapters of Romans, the Apostle Paul teaches us that those of us chosen to be saved…it wasn’t out of some personal merit or works that God picked us. It was by God’s grace alone. 

Thus, never let anyone tell you that you’re beyond saving. The best I can do is as Jesus Christ instructed in Matthew Chapter 6…to be a lamp that lights up a city…to live as a good Christian example.  

And no matter what you decide…as a Christian I’ll continue to love and respect you as my fellow neighbor. It’s one of the greatest commandments. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:3). Tolerance.

And personally, I confess, I’m constantly working on the Apostle Paul’s counsel at Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

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