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Gerard de VosCreated by Gerard de Vos
on 05-03-2008
Category: Christ related
What can Jesus teach us about tolerance?

The more the world preaches about tolerance, the less tolerant we seem to become: atheists shout that Christians are dumb headed fools; Christians bemoan the stupidity of unbelievers; Islam outlaws Christians and the Bible. The lack of moral order is causing chaos. Professor Watters said at McMaster University, ‘I want you to entertain the hypothesis that Christian doctrine, the existential soother par excellence, is incompatible with the principles of sound mental health and contributes more to the genesis of human suffering than to its alleviation.... In my view, all religions are inhuman anachronisms, but here I am only dealing with Christianity and, more specifically, with the noxious nature of Christian doctrine at the personal and interpersonal levels’ (quoted by Henry Morris, The Long War against God, Master Books, 1989, p 35).

But, can we learn something about tolerance from Jesus Christ, the Son of God? What was the tolerance situation in His time? He lived in the midst of Roman occupation, and they certainly did not look with friendship on the Jews. There was constant trouble between faith in the God of the Jews and the Roman gods, with insurrections, et cetera. Not once did Jesus tell His followers to become the famous ‘sicarii’ (assassins who killed the Romans). Rather, He told His disciples to walk an extra mile (Romans had the right to demand of the Jews to carry their baggage for one mile/kilometer. Jesus said they should walk an extra mile/kilometer (Matthew 5:41).

What about people who did not accept His message?
There was a rich man, eager to please God, but when he heard it entailed getting rid of his possessions, he thought that was too religious - going over board. Jesus did not reprimanded him. He only loved him and allowed him to leave (Mark 10:17-22).
There were the soldiers who roughed Him up before crucifixion (Matthew 27:27-31), who gleefully crucified Him, the onlookers who poked fun at His apparent inability to save Himself (Matthew 27:39-44). Jesus’ only response was: ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).
The only group that Jesus never spared was the unbelieving Pharisees and Herodians. He was brutally honest with them. They were supposed to be God’s servants, teaching the Jews about God. All they did was to load heavy religious duties on them without teaching them about God’s demands for inner sanctification, evidenced by good works (Matt 23:1-15).

Did Jesus vilify those who did not agree with Him? Apparently not. Did He organize marches and strikes against the immoral Romans? Apparently not. What did He do then? He helped, healed and prayed. We can learn how to conduct ourselves in this 21st century from the Son of God.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinth 1:27