I started to title this, "Tolerance Does Not Equal Love", but couldn't figure out how to do a "does not equal" sign in my title, and without even the italics, it just didn't work. :) I did realize last night, though, that the "part 2" in last night's title was going to end up being quite confusing. The "part 2" from last night didn't apply to the post as a whole, but to the "Misunderstood Peace" part of the post...as I had written "Misunderstood Peace, Part 1" 3 years ago, and then never posted part 2!
Today's post is actually "part 2" of yesterday's post, containing "part 2" of the email response I sent to a reader 3 years ago, so that this post is now "part 3" of that original post. Confusing enough? Definitely! Yesterday's post may clear things up a bit. Regardless, you definitely need to read yesterday's post before today's. It's long, but there wasn't a really good place to break my reply until near the end. Here's the rest of that long-ago reply:
I have great admiration for Mr. Fleisher...admiration that increases the more I look into his life and listen to his music. A close examination of my blog post will show that I was actually quite complimentary of Mr. Fleisher, as a musician and as one who has persevered through suffering with an amazing attitude. And although I do not know him, I love him as a person created by God. That is why it saddens me that I see no indication that he has accepted the love gift of salvation God has given.
The world equates "love" somehow with tolerance. And yet, if I truly believe God's Word is true (which I do), and I truly believe that the God of the Bible is the one true God (which I do), and I truly believe that salvation through Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven (which I do) and the alternative is an eternity in Hell (which I do), then the least loving thing I can do, for Mr. Fleisher, for the readers of my blog, or for anyone else, is to pretend agreement with them that "any religion", or no religion, is okay. They certainly have the freedom to believe whatever they choose. And I am responsible to be gracious and loving to the *person* regardless of their beliefs. But that does not mean that I am to be tolerant or accepting of evil or of false teaching.
I am also responsible to graciously and lovingly and boldly proclaim the truth, both out of love for others, and out of obedience to God. If their choice is to reject God and spend an eternity in Hell as a consequence, I don't want it to be because I didn't lovingly and boldly share the truth of God's Word.
"When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself." (Ezekial 3:18-19)
Although you didn't share your name, I am praying for you, and have been since receiving your email. I have prayed over how to respond and asked for the right words to share. I am by no means perfect, and I do not have all the answers. I am a sinner saved by God's grace alone. I have struggled greatly over the past several years with some severe suffering in my own life, which led me to re-examine all I had believed since childhood, and to in a sense "wrestle with God" like Jacob in the Old Testament. I have shared some of those struggles on my blog. Through those struggles, God has brought me to an even deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. He has shown me His love, His goodness, His mercy, His faithfulness, and His sovereignty in whole new ways, and gave me an even stronger assurance that I can trust Him in all things. I still struggle with that sometimes...the day of the blog post with which you took issue being one of those days...and yet He is always there to provide assurance and encouragement in those days. It is a continual process, but while I may be weak, He is strong, and is the firm foundation of my faith.I will continue to pray for you, and would be glad to hear from you again, especially if you have further questions or if anything I said was unclear.
So what does all this have to do with DOMA?
It seems almost everywhere you look these days, Christians who disagree with same-sex marriage are being accused of hate and intolerance. Christians who are open about their belief in Biblical truth in almost any area (including salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone being the only way to Heaven) are accused of hate and intolerance.
I know that there are those who claim the name of Christ who act in hateful, offensive ways. That's a whole 'nother blog post! (Coming soon, I hope. :)) The short version of that post is that I believe that many of those people may claim the name of Christ, but they aren't truly His followers. Then there are also those who are true followers of Christ, but they, like all of us, have areas in which they are still growing.
While the gospel itself is offensive to the world, we as Christians should never be offensive in the way we share it. I'm making myself end that preview of the coming blog post there...keep an eye out. :) (Lord willing, it won't be 3 years! :))
Most of the Christians I know, however, haven't demonstrated anything resembling hatred. Many have stated their beliefs, based on the Bible. But stating a differing belief does not equal hatred. It equals disagreement. I don't know about you, but I disagree with people I love all the time. We are still family and friends, we still love each other...we just disagree.
We are not ever (as yesterday's post discussed in detail) to tolerate sin...any sin, in our own lives or anyone else's. Tolerance may be the most-cherished virtue in our world today, but the type of tolerance that says "anything goes" is not Biblical.
What does all that mean for us...me, as I type this post and hit publish with somewhat trembling fingers, and for you, as you read it?
Christians (True, Christ-following, Bible-believing, forgiven children of God): It means we do two things:
(1) We lovingly and gently stand for truth, regardless of the outcome.
(2) We love those around us, no matter who they are. We never condone the sin, but we reach out and we minister and we meet needs and we build relationships and we share the gospel and we pray like crazy.
Everyone else: Don't fall into the trap of believing that just because someone disagrees, it means they hate those with whom they disagree. Realize that there can be love and care and relationship without "tolerance" as it is defined in the world today. No, you don't have to change for me to love you and for us to be friends.
You don't even have to change for God to love you! Because we as sinful humans can't change on our own...not the kind of change required to have a relationship with God and eternal life. God has to do that changing Himself. Then that change becomes evident after He has changed us. (For more on that, see here and here.)
Love does not equal tolerance. Disagreement does not equal hate.
Part 1 (Yesterday)
Misunderstood Peace, Part 1
The Post That Started It
I know this post may generate strong feelings. I welcome feedback/discussion in the comments section.
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