Today in my religion class, the teacher was discussing some points of the Christian religion. In particular, she was discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan. Hoping to stimulate discussion, she asked us to think about what the message of the story was. Her point was that this example showed that loving your neighbor as yourself was the greatest commandment, to the extent of The Law being of lesser importance. She then went on to ask what such a thing revealed about God and Christianity. A girl in my class who had shared the fact that she was atheist, having been raised in an atheist family answered her question. “It proves that God is all about love and tolerance.”
Love and tolerance.
I can’t even tell you what the rest of the class was about, as the words “love” and “tolerance” ran circles through my mind. Do these words accurately describe our God? I don’t think so. I mean, she was half right. God is love. Period. It’s the inclusion of the word “tolerant” that had me wondering.
That particular language combination has become a powerful coupling that is used to draw heat away from the Christian message in today’s society. After all, no one wants to be seen as intolerant in a world that is growing more and more progressive. To say that God is intolerant would seem hypocritical through a cultural perspective.
But God isn’t tolerant! I know! It’s crazy, and radical, and we catch flack for saying it. The point of the matter is, God can’t stand sin. Sin is utter separation from God. Now, He does tell us to love one another. He does tell us that sin is forgivable. He does tell us that we should deal with the speck in our own eye before addressing the plank in our buddy’s. But none of these things equate to tolerance. God hates sin. Sin is evil and corrupt and wicked. To become tolerant of sin would completely undermine everything God claims to be. One thing God is NOT, is tolerant of sin.
But there’s good news! God is love. God renews and restores. As cliche as it sounds, He loves the sinner, not the sin. That is the straight up difference. God is not willing that any should perish. He has a home for us, a plan. We’re given the tool (ie: Jesus Christ) to get there. But there has to be a line. Christ is the only way to heaven. There can’t be tolerance of sin.
Here’s an illustration of my own. Not quite a parable, but maybe it’ll help clarify things.
I’m going to school to be a teacher. Being in charge of my classroom, I will want every student to succeed. I want them to all get good grades and graduate with plans to pursue a successful future (Heaven, in this example). However, bad grades (sin) happens. For me to be tolerant of bad grades would not do anything for the students. If I were to say, “Oh, all grades are totally acceptable, and you all get As”, I am letting my students down. They won’t be adequately prepared to get into college (Heaven). During graduation, when they’re sitting in the bleachers watching their classmates walk across the stage, they’ll ask me, “Teacher, why did you lie? Why did you say this was alright, when you knew I would not reach success?”
I hope that made some kind of sense. The bottom line is, there is a bottom line. With Christ you reach Heaven. With Christ, sin is eradicated. There is no room for tolerance. Tough love is the name of the game, but what a love it is. God loves sinners, but can’t stand sin. So he provided a way to fix that.
For His Glory.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” -2 Peter 3:9