Fulton County Gospel News

a work of the mammoth spring church of christ


The Intolerance of the Tolerant

By Barry O’Dell

In any discussion, a definition of terms is absolutely necessary. Not only is a definition of terms necessary, but also of world views. What determines how an individual sees things in this world? It could be the case that a person’s family and/or friends is the strongest influence on how that person views the world in which he lives (2 Tim. 1:5). It might also be the case that one’s physical environment or location could impact certain definitions and views (Jn. 4:20). For the child of God, family and location do not determine truth. God’s word is the source of truth in the world (Jn. 17:17). A child of God can live in any location, under any circumstance, and still know the will of the Lord. God’s truth is universal and absolute. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

That being said, what is intolerance? says it is an, “unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect opinions or beliefs contrary to one’s own.” The definition of tolerance, from the same website, is interesting: “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” It is important to be fair and objective. We are commanded to judge righteously (Jn. 7:24) and to show no partiality (Jas. 2:1, 9). However, what about the word “permissive” in the above definition? About what are we told to be permissive? The world says we should tolerate (be permissive) of the following: abortion (now known as “reproductive rights”), gay marriage (because love knows no gender), Islam (because it is a “religion of peace”), drinking, premarital sex, rioting in the streets, etc., etc. How is the child of God to think in such a permissive, non-judgmental society?

The problem is that many children of God are being conformed to this world. Period. Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). There are several words that must be understood in this passage in order for the Christian to think correctly.

Holy. We are commanded to be holy, even as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). We are called with a holy calling (2 Tim. 1:9). The word in the Greek language means, “set apart, sanctified, chaste, pure.” The child of God is set apart from the world (Gal. 1:4; 1 Jn. 2:15-17). We are not to think or act like the world thinks and acts. We are not to define terms or have a world view that is fostered by the world.

Acceptable. No one wants to feel left out or unimportant or unloved. However, our greatest concern must be whether or not we are acceptable to God. The English word acceptable used by Paul is a compound word in the Greek meaning, “well pleasing.” We must be concerned with what is well pleasing to the Lord (Eph. 5:10). The standard of judgment that all of humanity will face is the word of God (Jn. 12:48). At what point in time has God ever approved of the shedding of innocent blood? At what point in time has God ever approved of homosexuality? At what point in time has God ever approved of changing His pattern for worship?

Conformed. This word in the Greek language literally means, “to be fashioned together with, to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern.” God’s child is not to look like the world. God’s child is not to think like the world. However, in our society, if you buck the current trends you are labeled as a “hater” or a “bigot.” You are considered “behind the times” if you stand against any of the sinful activities listed above. The world is constantly trying to squeeze us into a mold it has made.

Transform. We get our English word metamorphosis from the Greek word found here. It is defined, “to transfigure, to change one’s form.” This same word is used of Jesus when He was transfigured as recorded in Matthew 17:2. How does the Christian make this metamorphosis? Paul wrote, “…by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2). As stated in the beginning of this article, one’s thinking can be fashioned by many different factors and the child of God understands this. Even Jesus warned the apostles of this by saying, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). He was telling them not to be influenced by the teachings of those two groups. The child of God today must beware of the leaven of the world.

The Supreme Court of the United States began hearing arguments concerning homosexual marriage on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. A ruling on their hearings should be made sometime later this year. Statistics show that most of the Millennial Generation supports same-sex marriage (62%). Two of the current Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, have already performed same-sex marriages. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has already stated that people should be allowed to marry whoever they want to marry. There are even “Christian” groups who are pushing this agenda. One of the most vocal groups on the internet is Gay Christian Network. Sadly, there are those who are members of the Lord’s church who are attempting to advance the cause of the homosexual community. We are all inundated with the “fact” that things are changing and that the world is different than it used to be. What is the child of God to do?

Know the revealed will of God. God has spoken to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). If we do not know what God’s word says we will be susceptible to many false claims. We have access to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). We must stand fast on the word of God (Eph. 6:13).

Expose the darkness with the light of God’s word (Eph. 5:11). It is not enough to know what sin is. We must also expose it for what it is. Sin will separate people from their Creator for all eternity! Are we to “tolerate” sin because we love people and don’t want them to feel rejected? Is it better to allow people to live in and be lost in sin?

Understand the nature and origin of temptation and sin. James is very clear on this issue. God does not tempt us to sin. Temptation comes from our own lusts when we are drawn away or bated. When we give in to temptation, sin is the result (Jas. 1:13-15). Do not misunderstand the nature and origin of temptation and sin (Jas. 1:16).

Treat all people with love and concern. We are to speak the truth in love (Eph.4:15). Loving someone does not mean not offending them. Jesus’ message about sacrifice and priorities caused the rich young ruler to walk away (Mk. 10:22), even though Jesus loved him (Mk. 10:21). His love for this wealthy young man did not prevent Jesus from speaking the truth. Our love for souls will not tolerate sin in our lives or in the lives of others. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).



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