“Your opinion is intolerant!” says one side.
“Well, your opinion of my opinion is intolerant!” replies the other side smugly.
But what I want to know is this: Since when did tolerance become the ideal we were supposed to strive for? Since when did tolerance become the ultimate good? When I tolerate something, it is invariably something unpleasant. I don’t tolerate ice cream. I don’t tolerate my motorcycle. I tolerate the cat that lives in my house, and only because the rest of my family claims to enjoy his presence. Speaking of which, I don’t tolerate my family, I love them. Love seems like it is a much better ideal to strive for, doesn’t it? Let’s not tolerate each other, let’s love each other.
And it is Christians who are supposed to be the example of love. Jesus said this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:43-48
What does that mean? Let me paraphrase: Love everybody. Love your friends. Love your enemies. Love those that fall in between. Don’t only love people who are nice to you. Even jerks love people who are nice to them. Don’t only love those who are just like you. Even jerks love people who are just like them. But by loving everyone, even going so far as to loving people who treat you badly, you will be acting like God does.
That is the ideal that Jesus told us we ought to strive for. But let me tell you a secret. This section of the Bible is called the Sermon on the Mount. It spans Matthew chapter 5 to Matthew chapter 7. Whenever people refer to Jesus as a good teacher, chances are they are thinking of something he said in the Sermon on the Mount. But here’s the thing most people don’t realize. The whole point to this sermon was to set the standard for ethics and right living so high as to be impossible to attain. Did you catch that last sentence from that quote up there?
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The love Jesus told us to have is perfect love. You and I cannot love that way on our own. Have you ever seriously tried to love someone whom you considered an enemy? We cannot live the way Jesus tells us we should. Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount to show us that we can’t be good enough on our own. We need a Savior.
So tout your tolerance flag all you want. That doesn’t make you a good person. Jesus showed us a better way: love. And that love was so perfect, it pointed out our need of a Savior. And then he became the Savior that we needed. He acted out the love he described when he died to save the very people who were killing him. Who was that exactly? Me. You. All the intolerant restaurant owners, and all the homosexuals in the whole world.
Get off your high horses, Christians. Go love people. Introduce them to the same Savior that you needed.