Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tolerance or Acceptance – What do you think?

2 Timothy 3: 1-5  1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (NIV) 

This scripture was written by the Apostle Paul over 2,000 years ago and when we look at the condition of the world today, we can say these things happening right before our eyes. 
There is a way of thinking that is the foundation for what we see today and it is called anti-Christ thinking. Anti-Christ simply means any idea or lifestyle that is against Jesus Christ. One of those ideas that is prevalent in our society today is Tolerance and Acceptance. Too many people want to excuse the practice of sin with slogans like “God loves everybody” “Do what feels good to you” “Do you” and “Don’t judge” So I want to address this idea of Tolerance and Acceptance.

If I told you 60 years ago, (the 1950s), that there would be a concerted attempt to remove Jesus Christ from every aspect of American life, you would say I am crazy. Yet today, a teacher can lose her job by talking about the historical Jesus in public schools. There are people who want the phrase “in God we trust” be removed from the US dollar bills. Also several states are removing the “Ten Commandments” and any Biblical symbols from courthouses.

If I told you 60 years ago (the 1950s) that a day would come when men could marry men and women marry women in America, you would say I was crazy. But in 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States made this the law of the land. This is in total contradiction to the God’s Word which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The society has its views and God has His view as written in His Word. Obviously more and more secular leaders in power no longer believe the pledge of allegiance that America is no longer " Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" 

What is happening to America? Where are we going? We are in moral decline and perhaps we can no longer be considered the moral leader of the world. We, along with South Korea, are the countries with the most Christian missionaries around the world. But our moral decline is threatening our position. We promote the gospel via TV more than any other country so we are a target for the enemies of Christianity (i.e. kingdom of darkness). Satan already has the world and he is after the church.  I want to join others to sounding the alarm but also to state categorically that this environment is fertile ground to stand up for the gospel and win souls for the Kingdom of God.

In order to understand what happening, I need to identify some of the false anti-Christ ideas that are influencing this moral decay. Anti-Christ simply means any idea that is against Christ.

Authority of the Bible – Society says that Bible is outdated, is written by man, and is one of the holy books. But the Bible says in 2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Religion – Society says that all religions are the same and all lead to salvation. And we all serve the same god. God, Allah, Buddha etc. are all the same. But the Bible says in Deut. 8:19 “...if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish." 

The world says that truth is relative and there is no absolute truth. Our culture has done a number on the idea of truth. It teaches that truth and morality are relative which depends on the individual. In other words, there is no such thing as absolute truth.  But the Bible says in John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Note Jesus is not one of the ways - He is the only way. Jesus said it and Christians believe it and that settles it for us.
Role of personal relationships – pleasing people and what’s popular is the way to advance in society. But the Bible says in Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God?   or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the   servant of Christ.
Spirituality and Oneness with a higher consciousness, the universe, force or spirit. None of this is the same as the God of the Bible.
Tolerance and Acceptance – Christians must accept other beliefs because those beliefs are popular and accepted by most of society, otherwise you are intolerant, hateful and bigoted.   But the Bible says in John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments

While Christians can recognize the right of others to have different beliefs, we cannot allow those beliefs to go unchallenged for one simple reason: it is not loving, and Jesus calls us to love.

Acceptance and Tolerance:
One of the first excuses people use when they want to justify sinful activity is that God loves everybody. Of course they are correct, God does love everybody. However God also hates sin and wrongdoing and cannot have it around Him. If you are linked to sinful practices, you will feel the penalty when God judges the sin because you are connected to it. He requires confession and repentance (which is acknowledgement of sin and change of direction). But people and society want Christians to tolerate sin. Now tolerance means to recognize that people have different beliefs and that they have a right to do so. However, tolerance in America can now mean accepting that other beliefs are true even if they go against the Bible. In other words, Christians must accept beliefs and practices that the Bible says are wrong, evil and even an abomination. Christians cannot accept sin as legitimate, even if it is the law of the land such as the law approving abortion.

We Christians expect others to have different beliefs about the Bible, God and Jesus Christ. We are not surprised that some people don’t believe in the earth was created in six days.

In Romans 1:18-25 the Bible explains that the complexity of God's design of nature (the stars, earth, trees, seasons, billions of insects with complex design) are all proof and evidence of His creation, but many will refuse to believe what their eyes tell them. So we can tolerate their unbelief. So Christians are to tolerate others when they have different beliefs about God. But tolerance does not mean agreement or acceptance!

But in today’s world, do we Christians get tolerance in return? The answer is a big fat NO. In April of 2013 a professional basketball player came out and stated that he was gay. Immediately, the majority of the media and many leading sports and entertainment people celebrated his  “courage”. They asked a Christian sports reporter to give his opinion and he stated that he was opposed to gay behavior because he believed the Bible. The reporter was ridiculed as being hateful, bigoted and narrow-minded. In other words he must not have a worldview that is different. What’s going on here? What about freedom of expression? Are we Christians now going to be harassed and called names because of our beliefs? The society is demanding that Christians tolerate and accept beliefs that are contrary or opposed to the Bible. Christians cannot do that. Our Bible says:

Luke 6:22-23  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

Jesus said in John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

In other words when the world hates us, we need to remember they do so because they hated Christ first. What is this now? I am a Christian, you ask me my view, I give you my view which is based on my belief system the Bible. And the response I get is that I am narrow minded, hateful and biased. Are we getting to the place where the Bible will be declared as hate speech? I am sounding the alarm. Don’t take your freedom of religion for granted. It is foolish to expect tolerance and acceptance from others toward our Christian beliefs, even if they demand tolerance and acceptance for their own beliefs. The Bible tells us clearly: if we expect or look for tolerance from the world – Think Again - we will not get it.

This tolerance and acceptance of sinful practices is a growing demand against the Christian faith. But how do we respond to this intolerance towards us? We go to our life manual - the Bible

Matt 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Rom 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 

So we are to love our enemies and pray for them. We do not play by the society’s rules. Our response to intolerance must not be anger, fear and hate. Instead, we express the love of Christ which we have in us. Sometimes too many Christians respond to unbelievers with hate and so alienate them. This is contrary to scripture. We show love for the person but reject the sinful practices. Tragically, the our society no longer defines "tolerance" as the recognition that others have a right to different beliefs and opinions. It now means complete acceptance of those beliefs even if those beliefs contradicts our Christian beliefs. But this makes no sense because to accept this type of tolerance eliminates my personal opinion or belief. Christians are not to endorse, support or accept any social or religious beliefs that go against what the Bible teaches. This means that Christians are going to face discrimination for their beliefs in school, colleges, jobs, courts, media, business, community organizations etc. The challenges are coming if they are not here yet. I am sounding the alarm and I know that I am not alone. The Christian is and must continue to sound the alarm.

The problem with tolerance and acceptance today is that it rejects the possibility that absolute truth exists. The Bible teaches that truth does exist, that God is truth, and that we are to follow in His truth.  John 1:14 and 17 says that Jesus, who came from the Father, gives us truth.  John 8:32 says that the truth sets us free from the control of sin.

The Bible is also clear regarding those who hide or distort the truth in the name of tolerance. Romans 1:18 says whoever suppresses the truth will receive the wrath of GodIn Matt 28:19-20 Jesus says that our mission is to teach others of the truth about Him1 Cor 13:6  says, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."

So it’s not surprising that the secular society will call Christians narrow minded, bigots and intolerant. Should a Christian be tolerant of others beliefs? Yes. The Bible teaches that many will reject Jesus Christ. We should be prepared to accept that, as well as the fact that those who reject God will reject His followers. Christians should not endorse the belief that all religions lead to God, that truth is a personal construct, or that everyone's beliefs are valid. Jesus is the truth. Christians are called to tolerate – and to love – people without accepting their beliefs. So we overcome evil with good and the love in us will win the unbeliever. We are not giving up on America. Christians will stand up for truth in love.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.