Toleration is “the practice of deliberately permitting a thing of which one disapproves.” Respect is a positive feeling of admiration for a person and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. People can easily tell the difference between being tolerated and being respected.
Christians today have a great challenge. Cultural definitions are changing while biblical definitions are not. We have to decide what we believe and how to act upon those beliefs in how we treat people around us.
In the name of “love the sinner, hate the sin” people have tried their very best to tolerate others who are not like them. Some might even succeed at being respectful, but it doesn’t seem as if it’s very common outcome in certain circles.
It’s not really about respect or tolerance, in those cases, it’s about being right and it’s about winning. And that is an automatic loss. There isn’t going to be a pop quiz about your doctrinal stance and theological leanings to see if you get into heaven. You’ll be asked about how you treated people.
Did you provide for the poor? Did you visit the ill? Did you go see the prisoners? Did you look after the widows and orphans – those without support or status in society? Whatever you do to the ‘least of these’ is whatever you do unto Jesus.
Too many Christians busy themselves with persecuting and hating people that Jesus loves. They ‘tolerate’ this changing world, but they don’t respect everyone in it. How can they when they’re occupied with “hating everything God hates” and haven’t even begun to “love everything God loves”?
And this is just done to other people, the ones that aren’t brothers and sisters in the faith. But when there’s a Christian that’s one of ‘them’ it just gets worse. This fellow believer isn’t being as biblical as they are and are surely to be condemned for it. The Bible does have some things to say about ‘turning them’ and ‘restoring them’ but it doesn’t seem to be working. When one seems to be ‘telling the truth in love’ all the other one hears is bitter criticism and harsh judgement.
The foundation is wrong. It’s not about winning the argument or having the right doctrine. Jesus’ goal was not to create a group of believers with the most sound beliefs and unconquerable doctrine; it was to put together a spiritual family that looked out for one another in a world that would have said that they were strangers who didn’t owe each other allegiance. Jesus wanted us to respect each other, not tolerate ‘others’ who were not like ‘us’.