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Push Back!

Tolerance is an interesting concept.

toleranceThe idea of being tolerant in today’s society, was to do with being fair and objective towards people who were different to you.  People are different in all sorts of ways: race, religion, nationality, opinions, political ideology…  The thought is that tolerance in society goes further than just putting up with these things, and rather extends to having an enduring interest and concern for them.

Sounds good on paper doesn’t it!  But is having a permissive attitude to other people the right thing to do?

What does the Bible teach about tolerance?  One Scripture from the book of Revelation, chapter 2, comes immediately to mind.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

This letter, penned by the Apostle John, was written to the church of Thyatira in a time where Christian beliefs and practices conflicted with the norms of Roman society, fostering a social stress.  Maybe ‘stress’ is an understatement, given that we know that some believers, like Antipas, were martyred because of this cultural collision.  It’s obvious from the letter that the church was doing really well with ever increasing deeds of love and faith in service and perseverance.  And yet, this one thing was causing their downfall.  They tolerated an unrepentant woman who was leading Christians into the habits of the Romans,  practices that were in direct conflict with Christianity.  Clearly Christians aren’t called to tolerate such people.

phariseesConsider Jesus’ relationship to the Pharisees.  As the religious leaders of the land, the rules that they were enforcing were often in direct conflict with the way that Jesus was encouraging.  Did Jesus say to them, “Well let’s all agree to differ,” and then smile nicely and skip merrily away?  Look at Matthew chapter 23.  Jesus calls them a “brood of vipers” which was the same as calling them the sons of Satan.  A little harsh don’t you think?  Certainly  not very tolerant of their views, which of course were the predominant cultural views of the day.

How then did Jesus act towards those who were twisting the religious culture of the day to suit their own agendas?  Does this verse from John 2:15 ring a bell?

whipped15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

That doesn’t seem very tolerant.

Back to modern Australian society and the question needs to be asked:  Are we to be tolerant of those who are different to us? If somebody is a different race, colour, nationality, football team, education level, age, gender, or even if they like Country music, we need to be embracing of such people.  Let’s be very clear though, where people are standing strongly and unrepentant against Christianity, we have an enemy that should not be tolerated.  Where people are advocating evils like the killing of unborn children or purposely raising children without both a mother and father, we are not to be tolerant.  We are to stand in strong opposition.

Globally, where a society practices the rape, crucifixion, beheading and mass murder of anybody who does not belong to them, Christians must never be tolerant.  Just as Jesus responded with strong language and forceful action,  so to, as a nation, there are times where we need to be prepared to do the same.

protesterYesterday at the World Family Congress, a handful of protesters, well under the thousands that they had threatened, screamed obscenities, exposed themselves and had to be refrained by police.  To them it was completely intolerable that the people inside were going to talk about raising a family well, valuing children, protecting their lives, strengthening marriage and staying healthy in a physical, mental and spiritual sense.  The Australian national media present supported the protesters.  The protesters obviously don’t tolerate the Christian worldview in any sense at all, but should we tolerate their disgusting behaviour or put up with their ideologies?

I would say no.  Although their behaviour is socially acceptable to many in our modern society, that doesn’t mean that it is right.  The church is being pushed around.  We are being told what to think, how to act and what is permissible.  This is not to be tolerated.

I’m certainly not here to preach tolerance, but  I am here to preach love.  The dark souls of people need the forgiveness, love and grace of a merciful Christ.  While we should never tolerate their behaviour, while we should never tolerate their ideologies, while we should never tolerate their agenda, we must always, always love them.  By love, of course, I don’t mean that we must have hormonal gooey feelings.  No.  I am talking about Biblical love:  the love a father has for his son, even as he disciplines him; the love a ruler has for his people, even when he calls for them to pay their taxes; the love Jesus had for his disciples, even when he had to rebuke them. This type of love is not self-seeking or dishonouring.  It is not rude and proud.  It is patient and kind and it perseveres.  I hope that it makes sense when I say that we must not tolerate these people, we must love them.

And so, as the church gets pushed around, the godly form of love that is needed does not in any way require us to tolerate them, but it does call on us to show love.  What is the best way to do this?  For their own sake, as well as ours, we must push back.  That can be a scary thing to do.  It can leave you wide open to receive hatred and bigotry and even violence that may be directed toward you.  Standing up for truth and life can leave you feeling alone and rejected by society.

joshwilson

Josh Wilson

It reminds me of the Josh Wilson song that you can listen to here.   The lyrics are:

One million reasons why, you shouldn’t even try.
After all you’re just one heart, a single candle in the dark.
And there are shadows here, feeding on your fears,
That you don’t have what it takes – who are you to make a change?

But oh, oh, don’t underestimate the God you follow.

Whatever you do, just don’t look back.
Oh somebody needs the light you have.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark,
Keep on pushing back the dark.

The city on a hill, it should be shining still.
Every sinner saved by grace, has a purpose, has a place
Inside the bigger plan, we might not understand.
But if we just keep walking on, we will see the Kingdom come, yeah.

Whatever you do, just don’t look back.
Oh somebody needs the light you have.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark,
Keep on pushing back the dark.

(Let your lights all shine…)
Oh, oh, don’t underestimate the God you follow.
He is the light that burns inside your soul,
So keep on shining ’til the whole world knows.

Whatever you do, just don’t look back.
Oh somebody needs the light you have.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark,
Just keep on pushing back the dark, dark.

Whatever you do, just don’t look back.
Cause somebody needs the light you have.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark,
Keep on pushing back the dark, yeah

(Let your lights all shine)
When you feel like you’re too small
(Let your lights all shine)
To do any good at all
(Let your lights all shine)
Like a sunrise through the window
(Let your lights all shine)
Like a symphony crescendo
(Let your lights all shine)
We are waking up again, we are rising from the dead
(Let your lights all shine)
We are shining like the stars, we are pushing back the dark
(Let your lights all shine)
Yeah, we are pushing back, pushing back the dark
(Let your lights all shine)
We are pushing back, we are pushing back, pushing back the dark
(Let your lights all shine)
Just pushing back, we are pushing back, pushing back the dark
(Let your lights all shine)

 

So today, my friends, I urge you to use your gifts and creative talents to push back.

Don’t tolerate what is clearly evil.  Push back!

Nobody is unreachable.  Nobody is beyond redemption.

Push back.

 

Ever changing; Thy Kingdom come.

Jonathan

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Comments

  1. admin says: August 31, 2014

    And as Churchill once said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”

  2. admin says: August 31, 2014

    Here is the reception that Fred Nile received. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36el83VTMsc

  3. admin says: September 1, 2014

    The World Congress of Families put out this statement to clarify exactly what they stand for and to counter the lies of the extremists and mainstream media: http://worldcongress.org/WCF/wcf_principles.htm

  4. Geoffrey Bullock says: October 1, 2014

    Well said, Jonathan! We can love people but not tolerate that which they do – and at the same time – because God does the same to us all!

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