Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Darryl had a great sermon on Tolerance this Sunday. I thought I would highlight it for those that missed it. Everything in this post is from his sermon (except the last couple of paragraphs, those are all me). Direct quotes are indicated by block quotes.

He pointed out that the word tolerance is defined by Webster as,

to recognize and respect another's beliefs and practices without necessarily sharing them.

The Christian should have no problem with this since the implication is that we are accepting, valuing the person while not endorsing or approving of their beliefs or behaviors.

However, the world often defines tolerance as

Every individual's beliefs, values, lifestyles and perception of truth claims are equally valid and true.

This the Christian cannot stand behind. We know the one and only truth. We cannot, will not, tolerate people living in the darkness that is outside of that truth.

HOWEVER, and this is a big one (hence the capital letters)....we also cannot expect Christ-like behavior from those that do not know Christ. To try to force our standards on others BEFORE we introduce them to the love of Christ is to require a new born baby to get job and bring home a paycheck....the capacity is not there.

Darryl said (and I agree)

The problem with the church in our culture today is not that we disagree with people's beliefs. The problem that the culture has with the church today is not that we have signed up for an absolute standard of right and wrong. The problem is that we can easily become self-righteous hypocrites who walk around condemning everybody else for the dust in their own eye when clearly we have a plank in our eye.

So there are times when we need to be, have to be judgemental. How do we do that in a Christ-like manner?

#1: Examine yourself. Address the sin in your own life first. Once you identify the sin in your own life it is easier to go to help another person with their sin instead of judging that person for their sin.

#2: If the person sinning is a Christian then the steps for church discipline need to be followed.

We are to be lovingly intolerant of ongoing, unrepentant, unconfessed, blatant
sin in each other's lives.

However, if the person is not a Christian then....

It is not our job to hold people outside the church to a standard that none of them have agreed to live by. We are not saying that their behavior is okay. But it is not our job to be their spiritual authority, to condemn those people who are committing those sins. Sometimes I think we have come to believe that evangelism is not sharing Jesus--but it is getting others to sign up for our set of morals.

When we share Jesus the Holy Spirit convicts of sin; and when they repent of their sin, we show them God's grave. That's our job. That's our responsibility.

#3: Determine if it is a biblical mandate or a matter of opinion?

There are many matters that the Bible speaks of that are absolute truths. And when it comes to these matters we can't tolerate false teaching. But there are many things within the church that are considered disputable matters, and we are called to tolerate and accept one another if we don't see things the same way as Paul says in Romans 14:2.

Whether you like drums in the worship service or not, accept one another. Whether you get especially dressed up for church or you don't, accept one another. Whether you are passionate about homeschooling or passionate about public school, accept one another. Whether you worship with your hands in your pockets or with your hands in the air, accept one another. Whether you've kissed dating goodbye or kissed goodbye on a lot of dates, accept one another. Whether you like the NIV or the KJV, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, accept one another.

#4: Be sure that love is your motivation.

What is your response when you see someone living in sin? Is it brokenness or does your heart want them to pay for what they're doing? Does your heart want salvation and redemption, or does your heart want them to get what they deserve? Only you know your true motivation.

Josh McDowell wrote this about the difference between tolerance and

Tolerance says, 'You must approve of what I do.' Love responds, 'I must do
something harder. I will love you even when your behavior offends me.'

Tolerance says, 'You must agree with me.' Love responds, 'I must do something harder. I will tell you the truth because I am convinced the truth will set you free.'

Tolerance says, 'You must allow me to have my way.' Love responds, 'I must do something harder. I will plead with you to follow God's way because I believe that you are worth the risk.'

The ironic thing about this sermon was that it fell (or maybe was intentionally planned) on Greenville Goes Country Sunday. (An ironic name in and of itself, because as someone pointed out, "We don't have far to go.") It is the one weekend a year when we have a bluegrass band instead of a praise band. We have a banjo and mandolin and a couple of guitars and my husband on the upright bass. We sing songs like Victory in Jesus and I'll Fly Away and Mansion Over the Hilltop. The offertory for the day was the grammatically incorrect, "I Wouldn't Take Nothin' For My Journey Now". It is a fun time and it goes over well with our Saturday night and traditional Sunday morning service, but there are some in the contemporary service that don't enjoy it as much.

As a matter of fact there were people (and there are every year) that purposefully skip church on this Sunday because they don't like the music. They attend a different church in town or plan to be out of town or just don't come. Brian actually ran into a woman in the hallway after he was finished playing who said, "Is the music over yet so I can go in?"

First of all, HOW RUDE! Secondly, am I crazy or is there something wrong or offensive about "Some sweet day I'll sing up there the song of Victory. " And lastly, you won't find any bluegrass music on my iPod (but you will on Brian's, that's why I had to get my own). You won't find a bluegrass station in my presets in my car. I don't watch HeeHaw....anymore. But for one Sunday a year I can clap my hands and tap my toes and belt out "I want a gold one that's silver lined" and really enjoy it. I can worship by singing the songs I grew up with...albeit with a much twangier tune.

I do not understand the people that so resent a style different than their own personal preference that they would shun fellowship with their own family of believers....but I tolerate them, and accept them....and blog about them.

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