10-09-16 Drowning In Culture: Tolerance and the Right to Be Right

Okay, I’ve held back from commenting on this up until this point, but I just can’t stay silent any longer... Go Cubs! 

Thank you for your indulgence. 

In our worship service this week, Linda Irwin shared about this year’s Operation Christmas Child ministry.  For the cost of a shoebox and some small but thoughtful gifts for a child, you can help impact children and families around the world.  Even things that we might take for granted here in the United States (a baseball, a stuffed animal, pencils, etc.) can be life-changing to a child overseas.  And since the Operation Christmas Child people then add a special booklet about Jesus Christ to the shoebox, then that simple but life-changing gift can also open up the avenue for that child to receive eternal life as well.  So please consider joining our Operation Christmas Child efforts as a church family -- and even if you can’t take part directly, please be praying with us for all of the children who will be receiving these boxes.

You could also be praying for Great Oaks Camp and their ministry to the kids of inner-city Peoria.  Their annual Camp Banquet is coming up on October 27th, and I have free tickets available to join Wendy and me at our table that evening.  They’re first come, first served, so if you’re interested in coming to the Banquet, please let me know as soon as possible, and we can enjoy eating together, listening to good speakers, and supporting an awesome ministry at the same time.

In our message this week, we continued our walk through our own culture, trying to understand the people around us to whom we are trying to share the Gospel truth.  This week, we talked about the misunderstanding of the concept of “tolerance” within society.

See, from modern culture’s perspective, “tolerance” is a cardinal virtue, and is defined essentially as “everyone has the right to be right” (which means that its logical opposite -- “intolerance,” or telling someone that they might be wrong -- is one of the few societally unforgivable sins).  But in every other context, the term is describing the degree to which something (whether that be structural integrity, medicine reactions, etc.) can deviate from an established, normative baseline and still be workable.  In other words, true “tolerance” is when we believe that something deviates from the norm, but is still acceptable -- i.e.; that people actually have the right to be wrong in our estimations, but we can still go eat pizza together.

So from a Biblical perspective, we have a right and even an obligation to disagree with others.  We should tell the emperor that he’s naked, even if it hurts his feelings to hear it.  But we should do so with gentleness and with respect -- both for others and for their conclusions -- so that we aren’t tripping people up by our attitudes, words, or demeanors.  In fact, the whole point of grace is that we can and should show love and forgiveness not only to the people we agree with, but even more so to the people whom we believe are horribly, terribly wrong.

Take a stand for truth -- be a watchman on that wall.  But do so because you’re trying to reach the other person, and not because you’re trying to beat the other person.