The world is full of ideas because the world is full of people. Many of us are professing Christians whose ideas differ from that of other professing Christians. We don’t always tolerate non-Christian worldviews very well. But many non-Christians are quick to return the favor – and then some – as they don’t always tolerate us.
Getting along in certain circles can be difficult because tolerance become intolerance object of this intolerance moves from the idea to the person.
My observation is people today don’t seem to do well tolerating others when they can’t tolerate others’ ideas. In fact, it is not hard to find stories of political and social moving from verbal disagreement to physical altercation. Those on opposite sides of certain issues turn their hatred for ideas into hatred for those promoting said ideas. The disagreements reach a point where dialogue is no longer sought; rather, each side just wants the other to shut up!
Non-Christians may have an excuse for their intolerance of others, but Christians do not.
Think about the Apostle Paul’s words in Scripture where he wrote, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5, ESV). Paul’s encouragement is to destroy the non-Christian arguments and opinions, not destroy the people.
All Christians lived in the land of ungodly ideas prior to coming to faith. We still struggle with ungodly ideas in certain areas. Yet, Jesus did not destroy us before or after coming to faith. Jesus changed, and continues changing, us with His words by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Christians have Jesus’ words and the same power of the Holy Spirit backing those words. Therefore, we don’t have to fear the argument and make it about the person.
In the process of destroying non-Christian arguments, as noted above, we are to obey Jesus Christ in our thoughts. And Jesus said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, ESV). So Christians are to destroy ideas while loving and praying for our enemies.
Arguing is easy, loving is hard. Sounds impossible!
Of course, praying for your enemies while destroying their arguments is not impossible with God. I don’t think the process starts with the arguments, but on your knees before God. Christians must continuously grow in first loving God with all their being and then grow in loving their neighbors as themselves. Pray for your enemies ahead of time. Practice these habits of faith.
Don’t fall prey to the world’s use of intolerance by applying it to the person. Rather, show the love of Christ by loving and tolerating the person while saving the intolerance on their ideas.
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