I had a conversation recently stemming off the of all the Chick-fil-a controversy.
A friend of mine posted on his face book, “Eat less intolerance.” Obviously playing on CFAs tagline “Eat more chicken.” And in a moment of ironic smugness, I wrote back, “If everyone was completely tolerant, then no one would really believe in anything.”
I was trying to be “that guy” and not prove something or fix something or be anything. However, it did spawn a quality conversation which led me to some interesting thoughts.
This post is not about the conversation I had with my friend, but the rabbit trail my mind traveled after the fact.
Here is a truth; claiming intolerance in the name of tolerance is to be intolerant.
To believe in something means you don’t believe in something else and when you attack someone for being intolerant you are essentially saying the other party is wrong for not believing the way you do. Which is, interestingly enough, intolerance.
We are arguing ourselves into a circle.
In a similar vain, we all cry foul when we feel like we are being judged. Christians and non-christains alike love to throw around the verse “judge not, unless you be judged.”
What I think is interesting about this verse is we use it as a weapon to ward off the judgements of others only to turn around to judge their judgmental comments.
However, the truth we fail to miss in this verse is it’s not a command to not judge. It’s a warning to not judge, because if you do, you will invite judgement on yourself.
We know what this feels like, don’t we? As soon as we try to “speak truth” to someone else, do they not immediately like to point out all of the things we are doing wrong in our lives?
“Ok, but you…” is a famous rebuttal, isn’t it?
Later, in Romans, Paul once again picks up the idea of judging others and says “at whatever point you judge someone, you are condemning yourself.” Harsh words, I think, but true. You and I have all fallen short of the glory of God and to judge someone else’s faults is to simply stand on a mountain with a bull horn and proclaim yourself guilty to all which you have judged, namely, sin.
You see, humanity has attributed degrees to sin. There are some worse then others. And unfortunately, the church is largely responsible for this because we like to pick a certain sin and attack it and banish it and take “our stand” on this issue and we neglect to look inward. We judge, and condemn ourselves.
And the irony of the whole thing is the church is judged by outsiders who are only condemning themselves. The point is this, we are all condemned. We have all fallen short of the glory of God and no one is immune. Ever.
You and I are the same. We are bound for eternal separation from God, we might just be taking a different interstate. So, let us keep judging each other’s brokenness by saying “my failing grade is a little higher then yours” and ignore the big, red ‘F’ circled at the top of our final exam.
If you and I are truly to be free from intolerance and judgement, then let us recognize our plight and look not to ourselves, but to the cross of Christ, which is the opposite of judgment and intolerance. Grace is free. And grace is for everyone.
And for those of us who say Christianity is intolerant and narrow minded and judgmental, I say look again. There are no set of standards for who can get in and who can’t. There are no criteria for the chosen and the not. The cross actually undoes judgment and condemnation and offers us salvation in spite of ourselves. We never have to pay the penalty for what we do or what we didn’t do. It was already taken care of before you and I ever stepped foot on this planet. Jesus isn’t turning people away, he is standing on the mountain saying I have a better a way for all who believe in me. He isn’t turning people away because of who they are or where they have been. He is offering a free gift. The perfect gift.
And here’s what I know, when we stop focusing on how far we’ve come and how far others still have to go and and look to what Jesus has already done for us, something inside of us changes. We become overwhelmed by Grace and we want to give everything we have to get to know that Grace, and when we do we become more like the man who offered this Grace. And then we start to love people in a big, big way. A huge way. And we start to recognize what is really true and we begin to hate all that holds us captive from experiencing the freedom found in Grace. We don’t hate people, but we hate their captivity. And Grace bubbles up in our hearts like a volcano threatening to consume us and we find ourselves sitting in a room of tax collectors eating dinner sharing truth, not because we think we’re right and they are wrong, but because this truth gives life and something about the telling of it reminds us of our own redemption and we can’t think of anything else we had rather have for the person sitting across the table from us.
Christians should never speak the truth to prove a point, take a stand, or to be right. No. We should speak the truth because the grace behind the truth has so profoundly changed us that it becomes a fire in our bones and to not speak of it would be impossible.