Are Churches too Tolerate or Not Enough?

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This is a little long and I want to thank those who read it and it isn’t meant to upset people. This is my personal views and thoughts about Tolerance, Intolerance and Inclusiveness. Whew, those are big powerful words.

Are we as a society too accepting of other people and faiths? At what point do we draw the line, if a line is needed to be drawn?

Tolerance has become a favorite word lately when it comes to the media, churches, godlessness, crime, and alcohol and just about anything else.

I came across a blog and I loved what it had to say. ” Many churches and Christians have become Americanized and ended up with broad spectrum of religious truths and tolerances. They have become like your favorite puppy, warm and cuddly and, if you don’t move too fast, they will keep up and follow you where ever you go.”

Churches and Christians have become empty and bland. For the most part we want to fit in somewhere. We want to be loved. And if we belong to Christ, we will be hated and persecuted from what the Bible says.  When it comes to being a Christian, I wouldn’t want my pastor or church leader to be broad-minded. I want him to be narrow-minded when it comes to His convictions on what the Bible says.  Our very lives depended on it.  I don’t want sugar coating and my ego stroked. I want to be sure to make it to Heaven, and we shouldn’t want a yes man/woman when it comes to Christianity.

transformed_renew_mind_thoughts_thinkingMany people have the feeling that Christians are intolerant of other faiths and belief systems. Christians are under pressure to tolerate sinful nature and acts. We are told to accept things that the Bible condemned.  I’m a Christian and I try my very best to not come off as a hell fire and brimstone kind of person.  Jesus did command us to tell people about Him, and at times that may mean pointing out the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we should do this in a loving way. Jesus pointed out sins of others because He loved them! We should not abuse the Gospel by giving into tolerance and doing away with what happened on the cross. Jesus spilled His blood for us and He was perfect and blameless.

Now!  I have friends and family that are from all walks of life. And not a one of them is perfect and blameless. If I see something that is going on and they can’t see it, I try in a loving way and not always the correct way (hammer) to show them that they need to stop what they are doing. And I would hope they would do this for me too. If you love and care about them, you should want to point them in the right direction. Condemning people to hell every chance you get is NOT going to convince a person to stop a particular sin.

4dbe5a54fb47329ad1a0db9df50651a7I also think that no matter what others believe that they should be respected. Not all people will agree with what I believe and that’s OK. I know that for the most part those I know respect me for my faith and I respect them in return. Even when I disagree, they still deserve respect.  At a very basic level, we should treat others with the same degree of respect as we would like to be treated ourselves. I am grateful and humble when it comes to my friends and family of different faiths. They accept me for who I am and what I believe, and I in turn do the same. They have very much enriched my life.

OK, back to my thought process. What I also have been thinking about is tolerance towards other faiths. I am the kind of person who loves to learn what other faiths believe. I have friends of many faiths and belief systems also.  I live in a community that is mostly Mormon and I have many wonderful friends that are Mormon. I have friends that are Jehovah Witnesses, Wiccan, Christians, Agnostic, and Atheists and so on.  Even though I have friends of all faiths, that doesn’t mean I always agree with what they believe in or attend services, but I respect them for what they have chosen to believe in. They don’t always agree with what I believe and I wouldn’t expect them to. God gave us free will and He allows us to decide for ourselves. And it bothers me that people will stay away from others because they don’t agree.  I would be pretty lonely if I did that.  Shoot, when I stand before the Lord, I am pretty sure there are many things I got wrong. Through these different belief systems, I have become stronger in my faith. I have to know what I believe and why.

Jesus loves and has been known to associate with all kinds of people. He wasn’t tolerant of their choices though. Think back to what happened in Sodom and in the temple when people were trying to get rich by selling goods. Now what kinda gets me is how many will focus on and point out the sinful nature of homosexuality instead of paying attention that there are many other sins that we all are guilty of. Jesus confronted all sinful behaviors head on. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).”

Jesus didn’t accept all faiths and religions as being true. When He said,  “Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15)” then we should do this. When I think of this verse, I think of how God is saying that Jesus is the ONLY way to God.

So what does this mean about being tolerant of others? I guess for me, I feel I am tolerant to others and at the same time intolerant. I love people and I know that only through Christ can they be saved. Only because Christ died for my sins can I be free. Yes, one day we all die, but we will have perfect bodies when we are with Christ. I can get a bit over zealous on things and especially when it comes to sharing the good news of Christ. But it is only because I want everyone to know this same kind of love and have that assurance that they can live forever.

Now, I do have to admit there are some things that really bother me and that is that we have become way too accepting and tolerant of anything and anyone. There comes a time when you or I have to stand up for what is right and what we as Christians believe. One of the biggest things is when Christians try to justify doing certain things in the name of love and community.  Love is all grand and we all want to have those warm and fuzzy feelings. But at what cost?

When I look around and hear certain things, I think as a world and community we are being desensitized. We want to accept anything because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Some may say that it is prejudice or we are too intolerant. I guess for me, I would prefer to be intolerant on things then to be overly accepting of things. When God puts something on my heart that is wrong to participate in or I get the gut feeling I shouldn’t be there, I need to listen. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right. I enjoy taking part in community events and have gained a great deal of knowledge by participating.

I do want to somewhat touch on the term,”all inclusive”. The reason I want to is that our church years ago decided to separate from the American Baptist Church and we are now with Transformation Ministries. The reason for that is that many of the churches didn’t believe that they should be ordaining gay and lesbian pastors and clergy.  Our church stands by the Bible and what it says.  Even though our church doesn’t ordain gay and lesbians, that doesn’t mean that they can’t come and fellowship. God loves all people, just not the sin. Now there are a whole lot of other sins and I don’t like to pick just one.  We need to look at our own plank in our eye when it comes to sin instead of throwing stones at other ways people sin. But I do want to say that church is for the sinners and that would include me.  Gods Words are for everyone, from all walks of life, race and so on.

I have big issues when I go into places that say they love God and they are open to anyone or anything, I have a problem. I can’t see God so accepting of sinful behaviors and ways. I can’t see God being happy about worshiping other Gods. I can’t see God wanting us to Love Everything and Accept Everything. There is only ONE GOD and there is only ONE WAY to God and that is through Christ.

Last year I went to the Prayer over the City here in our little town. I didn’t really have a problem with it until a couple of the speakers that shared a prayer set wrong with me.  Something about their prayers made me feel like I shouldn’t be there. Theirs gave me the hebbie jebbies. I know prayers are great, but I do also believe that we need to be careful who we pray to and what we pray about. We need to be careful of our association with others too. I don’t feel comfortable at all with the Scientology Church and I don’t feel comfortable with the Unitarians belief system and others. I believe that no matter what, we should only be praying to the ONE TRUE GOD. I know some may feel differently and that is OK. We all have a right to believe or not believe.

When I think about association with other groups or people. Until I moved to St. George, I didn’t really think about associating with other people and groups much. But when our family joined our church, I had a moment when the light-bulb came on. When we joined our church, we went over the bylaws and doctrine. And as I did that and read more about out church, there were some things that bothered me. I have always been part of the Nazarene Church. They are much stricter than the church I go to now. We weren’t allowed to participate in certain activities because of the temptation through association that could arise. I guess it is sorta like being in the car with a bank robber and you are in the passenger seat. You get pulled over because the driver just committed a crime. But you will go on trial and be found guilty by association.  I didn’t understand that until we moved to Utah.

As I was reading the information about our church, I got to thinking about how when we join a church or participate, we are giving the seal of approval and acceptance of whatever it is that is going on. We will be judged by those we affiliate with. A lot of people know me because I was the president of the Community Services Expo. I loved reaching out to the community and raising awareness. But one thing stood out when it came to churches that didn’t want to participate and that was that they didn’t feel that God was calling them to be there because of some of the groups/churches that were present. And I have respect for that, but I couldn’t figure out what the big deal is. And that was when I thought back to when I went to the Nazarene Church. I do think it is important to get to know those around us and learn about other faiths. But there comes a time when you have to pay attention to what your gut and God is putting on your heart.

I do still go to many community things and I love our community and the people from different churches. But when God puts it on my heart that I shouldn’t be there, then I need to pay attention to that prompting. And I have to say that when I hear prayers or the teachings from Scientology or Unitarians and so on, I think twice about going. Everyone has the right to believe what they want, but some things are not in my comfort zone and not Biblically based.

Unitarians according to Wikipedia:

Unitarian Universalism, or Unitarianism, is a liberal religion characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”. Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed, but are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. The roots of Unitarian Universalism are in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and Christian Universalism. From these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love, so that currently individual congregations and members actively seek inspiration in and derive spiritual practices from all major world religions.

The theology of individual Unitarian Universalists ranges widely, including Humanism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Pantheism, Deism, Christianity, Judaism, Neopaganism, Buddhism, and many more

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