Thursday, 18 June 2009
I have been noticing a lot of featured posts about tolerance lately on Xanga. I have always thought of tolerance as a good start but not the ultimate goal. I believe that we are called to love each other as much as we love ourselves. In fact, it is the greatest commandment under the new covenant:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e]
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f]
40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Verse 39 is where a lot of Christians, me included, miss the boat sometimes. First off, the verse puts loving people on the same level of importance as loving God. If loving God is what gives us our identity as Christians and that same God says that loving people is just as important as loving Him, then Christians should be identified also by their love of people. Secondly, the verse does not give exceptions. In other words, the verse does not say “love your neighbor as yourself as long as your neighbor is the same race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and has the same faith as you.”
Tolerance is a permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from your own. This is not a bad principle at all, but I think that it is not enough. It is easy to allow someone to live any way that they want just as long as it doesn’t affect your own life. It is much harder to love people as we love ourselves. This would require us to do more than just accept people of all kinds from a distance - essentially ignoring them. This kind of love requires us to actually get involved in people’s lives. This means helping your family, friends, coworkers, and literal neighbors with “life stuff” – listen to their problems, help them move, drive them to the airport, bring them food when they’re sick, etc. This list could go on and on. The goal is to show others the love of Christ which was freely given to us.
“Give as freely as you have received.”