MIXEDconception #4: Tolerance is Love

There is indeed a greater love than the world's definition of tolerance.

Transcript

CHURCH PLANTING INTRO

Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. 

Before we get started this morning, I’d like to point out a few people with us today. 

You may or may not know, but Renovation Church is just 3 years old

We are what’s called a church plant and have parent churches, who helped us with finances, people, and coaching, so we could get started. 

Last fall, we started two churches of our own, Ignite Church in Oakdale and Hope Bridge Church in Plymouth, also giving them funding, coaching, and 11 of our people. 

Today…we have with us a “sister” church plant w/ us…that’s going to start this Fall.

Phil Santillan (stand for a second), is going to be the lead Pastor of Clarity Church, which is going to launch this fall in Northern Plymouth

Clarity Church isn’t being planted by Renovation directly, but they’re sort of a sister church in that we have the same parent church in Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park. 

Phil is here today with a few of his launch team members (if on launch team, would you stand??)  They’re here because they are going to be starting their church in an Elementary school…just like Renovation. 

So there here to kind of shadow us today and hopefully learn a few things. 

If you can, talk to Phil on your way out today.  Encourage him.  Ask to pray for him…  Sign-up for his prayer team…and tell your friends about his church starting. 

Right now in America, the church is not keeping up with population growth.

In fact, here’s your stat of the day, we need to start an additional 2,900 churches EVERY single year just to keep up with population growth in America. 

So church planting is VERY important to us at Renovation.

Our goal is to plant 10 churches in 10 years, so by 2022.

So, I want you to be praying for Phil and Clarity Church today…and maybe even be praying about…when Renovation starts it’s 3rd church…maybe a year from now…would God want you to go with to help start that church?

 

 

TOLERANCE DEFINED

We are concluding our MIXEDconceptions series today. 

I said at the outset that it was going to be one of the most mentally challenging series we’ve ever done…especially for our worldviews…and I think that’s been true. 

We’ve really had a couple of tough series in a row at Renovation with our “Illusions Series” and now MIXEDconceptions…so I’m happy to announce we’ll be taking it easy and starting a new series on puppies and bunnies next week… J

If you’re visiting for the first time today, our MIXEDconceptions series is centered around the concept that we all have misconceptions…but more than that, we have MIXEDconceptions

That is…we take cultural ideas…and Biblical ideas…mixed together…to create a new idea about God…or morality.   Which are MIXEDconceptions.

And today we’re going to talk about some MIXEDconceptions around the concept of tolerance. 

Before you think I’m crazy…I’m not against tolerance.  I think it’s great actually.  So don’t throw anything at me. 

But here’s what I want to do today:  I want to pitch you a type of love that’s EVEN greater than what you think of when you think of tolerance.

So, this is not an anti-tolerance message.  This is a message on how do we love people EVEN more. 

The word tolerance is a great example of a principle you maybe learned in high school English…if you were paying attention…or remember high school

And that’s this:  Many words slowly change their meaning over time

For instance…hundreds and hundreds of years ago the word diaper, a word in which I’m highly familiar with twin infants right now (twinfants):

 Diaper used to mean, a white fabric with a pattern of small diamonds on it

Things have changed. 

So words change.  And we’re watching that happen. 

You can actually see this happening with the word tolerance.  In fact, Google the definition of tolerance and you can see how different dictionaries have vastly different meanings…because the word is changing before our eyes. 

So the word used to mean that you could “Bear or put up with someone or someone else’s ideas.”  You maybe didn’t agree with them, but you could still respect the person.

And now it’s being redefined to say that a tolerant person is “one who accepts all values, all practices, all beliefs as equal.”

I’m not interested in trying to bring a word back to its original definition.

Because A) never going to happen and B) a silly waste of time.

But what I am interested in…is seeing how this semantic MIXEDconception is affecting how we live out our Christianity   

 

 

WHY CHRISTIANS BELIEVE THIS

In a number of our messages in this series, we’ve looked at, what I would call “pop culture Bible verses.”  

They’re the ones that we love to tattoo ourselves with, put on facebook, and write on our mirror with pretty pink marker.

But typically, the more famous the Bible verse, the more misunderstood it usually is.

It’s like the Christmas story we tell every year about Jesus. 

The manger scene is a Biblical mess. 

The more famous the passage, the more confused we tend to be about it.

And thus, they tend to be MIXEDconceptions

Let’s take a look at what’s become one of THE most popular Bible verses in America.

It’s not one you’d probably tattoo on yourself, but people know it

(Matthew 7:1-2) – NIV

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

So there it is.  Don’t judge. 

And we hear it all the time nowadays

We say, “I’m no better than anyone else…and who am I to judge what a person does?

The Bible says we shouldn’t judge.

Sidenote:  Try not to think of just one certain issue today while I talk about this. 

That’s not my aim or goal at all.  I really mean this as a broad message for all sorts of sin…and we’ll talk about many of those.

But we say, “Listen…I’m a sinner.  I screw up all the time…so WHO am I to actually judge another person…and tell them they’re wrong?”

Plus…Jesus Himself…just said…”Do not judge!”    

BOOM!  Check and mate!

But…God is calling us to more than just a devotional and facebook faith…where we pick out random verses and apply it to ourselves. 

Again…just like any article, book, or paper…we have to look at context.

Let’s read the rest of the passage:

(Matthew 7:3-5) – NIV

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So notice here…in verse 5…that Jesus actually wants you to help your brother take the speck out of his eye. 

Which is a judgment call!

But there is definitely a process of humility for how we do this…AND I would argue…even a group of people that we should do it for

And we’ll get to that in a little bit.

 

TOLERANCE DOESN’T ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE

But first let’s get back to this new definition of tolerance…because I don’t think there’s a lot of reason and good sense behind it

We’ve been pretty philosophical this series, as I truly believe that Christians should be good thinkers. 

Christianity is not just some fairy tale faith with nothing behind it.  Christians should be some of the most competent thinkers in our culture.

But a philosophy of postmodern tolerance is a philosophy that’s full of holes.

It never actually makes sense. 

Let me explain.  

The basic premise of the new tolerance is that all beliefs, practices, and values are equal.  And we should accept them all as equally true and valid.

You hear this in a lot of our colloquialisms

To each his own.  If it’s true for you, it’s true.  Whatever you believe in is true.  All paths lead to the same thing. 

And our culture loves this idea.  We’re told…from kindergarten on that all beliefs and practices are equally valid. 

But it’s slightly silly reasoning.  And no one REALLY believes it if pressed. 

It’s almost like the book Animal Farm by George Orwell.  Ever read that in school?

It’s Orwell’s allegory of the Russian Revolution. 

And as the animals thinking gets ridiculous and more ridiculous, they eventually adopt the phrase:  “All animals are equal…but some are more equal than others”

And the new tolerance says…”All beliefs are equal…but some are more equal than others”

Because even the person proposing the philosophy of tolerance for all beliefs, subconsciously believes that some beliefs are better than others. 

For instance…they really tend to dislike and disapprove of people who say their personal stance on all beliefs are equal is wrong.    

But shouldn’t they be tolerant of that belief too??  Shouldn’t that belief be equally true? 

It’s just dizzying in its nonsensical reasoning.

If you’re intolerant of what you deem as intolerance, logically, you should be intolerant of yourself.  Thereby violating the very thing you believe in most.  

 

 

REDEFINING TOLERANCE

But like I said at the beginning, I don’t want to make all tolerance out to be a bad thing…I’m just trying to point out that some of the new ways we define it are a little silly. 

There are some really good things about tolerance.  And like a lot of things, I think it just comes down to confusion over semantics…which is how we give meanings to words. 

So for instance, what I would call “social tolerance” is really, really important

In how we socially interact with people, Christians should absolutely be loving, embracing, and showing compassion and kindness to ALL people.  This is SOCIAL tolerance. 

No matter who they are:  White, Black, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Gay, Straight, Rich, Poor…

I don’t care who you are…you were made by God and worthy of my love and respect.  That’s social tolerance. 

A person’s religious preference, political preference, or belief on anything in life…shouldn’t have ANY bearing on how I treat them as a person. 

Just like Jesus did…I should show kindness to EVERYONE.  Regardless. 

And to not do so…is a lack of tolerance…

If I can’t bear with someone (that’s where the word tolerate comes from)…if I can’t love them or treat them the same because they’re diferent than me…that’s a problem.  

And Christians should be the best at this form of tolerance.

We should be like Jesus…showing love to everyone…no matter what!

But here’s where the word gets nuanced…and I think this is where a lot of the confusion lies…and why we’ve created yet another MIXEDconception

Yes…”social tolerance” is important.  We should show kindness to all…treat people the same… but that doesn’t mean that all ideas and beliefs are equally valid…or equally true. 

Every person is of equal worth and equally worthy of respect.

But ideas and beliefs are something entirely different.

Ideas aren’t people. 

You aren’t your belief. 

But we’ve somehow lumped them together in our new definition of tolerance.

And here’s the half that’s not true:  What I would call “intellectual tolerance,” to say that we should accept every view and every belief as equally valid and equally true…is a little silly.” 

But not every belief and value is equally true. 

Is the KKK’s view of race in America equally true to that of Martin Luther King Jr’s position?

Is Al Queda’s belief that Christian infedels should die equally valid to your belief that innocent people should live? 

Is the Christian belief that God is in control of your destiny equally true with the ideas of astrology (that the stars are determining the outcome of your day)?

But it’s like we never actually think through the examples.

We just think, “Oh, well, who am I to say?  And I don’t want to be judgmental.”

GK Chesterton, who was a brilliant thinker, articulates having an open mind this way:  “The purpose of opening the mind, as opening the mouth, is to shut it again, on something solid.” 

John Stott, the articulate Anglican thinker follows up Chesterton’s quote in his own writings by saying:

“To open the mind so wide as to keep nothing in it or out of it is not a virtue; it is the vice of the feebleminded.”

It’s one thing to insist that people have the right to express their basic beliefs and opinions…that’s what freedom of religion is grounded on…and it’s highly important. 

But it’s quite another to say that each of those opinions are equally valid and true.

And I think this MIXEDconception of tolerance is negatively affecting the modern-day church in 2 particular areas:

In helping each other as believers

And in helping those who don’t know Jesus.

 

 

HELPING THE CHURCH

Firstly, let’s look at how we’re struggling to practically work this out is in our own Christian communities. 

Let’s say you have a Christian friend (maybe even from your house group) or a family member…and they’re struggling with a particular sin (maybe it’s excessive gossip…or getting drunk…or dating a non-believer…or…could be anything)

So often…we look at that person…and we think, “Oooo…I should help them…but WHO AM I?!?  Who am I to judge?  I’m  sinner too.  I’m just as bad. 

So we, in our tolerant world, elect to do nothing.

And everyone suffers because of it.

But tolerance of other believer’s choices…or apathy as I would call it…is not what the Bible calls us to. 

Your job is not to sit back and watch your brothers and sisters in Christ make choices that are going to hurt their walks with God and those around them…and say nothing. 

Look at the words of Paul:

(1 Corinthians 5:12) – NIV

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

We’ll get back to the first part of that verse, but Paul actually says, “Are you not to judge those inside the church?”  Yes, we are. 

Meaning…if my friend…and that’s key…it’s not just random people we don’t know. 

If someone in my house group, in my small group, if my close brother or sister in Christ is struggling…than I oughta help them!

Actually, the Bible CALLS me to let go of my worldly tolerance…and say something.

If I disagree with my Christian brother or sister’s addition to drinking or gambling…does that mean I don’t love them? 

No…but that’s the MIXEDconception of tolerance. 

That to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.  That’s what the world tells you.

That’s not love.  That’s not love at all. 

How much am I really loving that person if I’m standing back, watching them ruin their family and I say nothing?

That’s love?!?  Really? 

It’s hurting the believer to live in sin.  They’re not only displeasing God, but they’re not walking on a path that leads to life. 

What a mess we will all be if we can’t make spiritual judgments and help each other!

And we do so following the words of Christ in Matthew 7…we take the plank out of our own eye, “Listen…friend…You know how messed up I am…we’ve talked about this…but I wanted to talk about your drinking lately…I’m worried about you”

If we’re not willing to have conversations like this with our close friends:

The reputation of God’s people will suffer

Our friends will suffer

And consequently…we will suffer. 

This principle applies to innocent or defenseless people being hurt too.  How will we ever stand up for good if all practices are equal?

“We need the courage to believe that there is a truth (in God’s Word)…and that God’s way…and his path…actually is the best for people…and we need to courageously…yet humbly…help each other with this.

I’ve heard from a lot Christians who’ve friends have confronted them on some pretty tough sins…and later…in hindsight, they always say, “those are the people who really loved me.” 

My friends that just sat by because they didn’t want to say anything cuz you know, “They weren’t any better than me…”, those were the people that didn’t really love me

Tolerance is cheap love.  It’s a love that risks nothing and gains nothing

 

 

HELPING THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW JESUS

“But perhaps the greatest danger that this MIXEDconception poses is to our willingness to share our Christian faith with other people.

Because if we start believing that tolerance is the real love…that every belief is equal…that every religion is equally valid…even non-belief…then we certainly aren’t going to share the Good News of Jesus w/ people.

But again, in the MIXEDconception, we’ve confused ourselves.

We say, “I’m not supposed to proselytize.  It’s wrong to tell others what to believe.  Faith is a private matter.  We should keep it to ourselves.  We shouldn’t talk to people about politics or religion (all common phrases and MIXEDconceptions in our culture)

But no one’s asking you to proselytize or force your faith on anyone.

It’s a confusion of words again.

Mark Driscoll says it this way:  “Christianity is not a religion that should be imposed on anyone.  It’s about loving Jesus, and you can’t simply pass a law to accomplish this.  It doesn’t work like.  To love Jesus, your heart must change.” 

We shouldn’t be coercing anyone.  We’re not pressuring anyone.  We’re not saying, we’ll give up on you, or stop caring about you, or showing you love if you don’t accept Christ. 

No we’re not imposing faith, but rather, proposing it. 

To impose it…to force it…like a religious government…never works.  History plainly tells us that. 

But we want to tell everyone we know about the forgiveness and love of Jesus!

That God loves everyone…EVERYONE…so much that he sent his only son to die in their place and offer them forgiveness & eternal life. 

And by the way:  That is what our mission is all about. 

Because as Paul said, “What business of ours is it to judge those outside the church?”

Our role is not to look at all the non-Christians and make sure they all know that each of the things they’re doing is sin

If all you do is go out and convince your non-Christian friends to stop drinking, swearing, and sleeping around, you’re just created a Pharisee, not a Christian!

No, our job is to introduce people to love and saving grace of Jesus!

But if all ideas are equally valid and equally true…then there’s no point to showing up here next week.  Seriously. 

But that’s not the teaching of Christianity. 

Jesus…claims that this is what history is all about:

That God created everything.  And in the beginning humans fell into sin and imperfection. 

But God sent his son, on a rescue mission, to die in our place, and it was a rescue mission not just for some people, but for everyone!

If you can get into heaven through any religion you choose, than why in the world would God let his own son be murdered?

Would you do that?  If you were God?  If everyone was coming to heaven anyway, would you have your own son murdered???

No, Jesus’ claims look very different than our world of pluralism:

(John 14:6) – NIV

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(John 8:32) – NIV

 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Like I’ve said, like a lot of the things in this series, there is simply just a lot of confusion around words.

 Because again, you absolutely should be tolerant of some cultural things. 

I’ll take that a step further…some things are even equally valid. 

Like:  types of music…how people dress…the car you drive…the language you speak…what you eat…and on and on. 

Those are all equally valid.

There’s no right way to eat dinner…there’s no right genre of music…as long as you don’t listen to country. 

And we understand that…but then in attempt to be nice…and non-judgmental…we take it one step too far…and say, “There’s no one right belief.”

But not all of life works like that…and in fact, you know this already.

Billy Graham, back in the day, used to put it this way:

Think of science:  There’s no room for broad-mindedness in the laboratory. 

Water boils at 212 degrees.  Not 100.  Not 150.  212

Or think of math:  two plus two is 4, never 3 and a half.

Or even of geography:  If you stopped to get gas on the way here, and someone said, “Hey, you look like a friendly fellow, you must go to that Renovation Church everyone’s talking about!  Could you tell me how to get there?”

Could you say to him, “Oh just take any road you like, they all lead there.” 

That’s clinically insane..  And everyone knows it. 

And it’s just as insane to say…”All roads lead to heaven.” 

Peter tells us in Acts 4

(Acts 4:12) – NIV

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

And, to be honest, even a lot of good thinking non-Christians think intellectual tolerance is silly. 

Are you familiar with the magician Penn?  From Penn and Teller?  He’s a brilliant guy, but an agnostic.  I was reading a blog of his recently, and he very interestingly said, “I can’t stand it when people say “There are many paths to truth, you just go on and maybe you’ll find your way”

He says, “That how you talk to a child.  If you know truth.  You better tell me about it” 

And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t know Jesus

At this point in my life, I’ve still lived the majority of my life as a non-Christian. 

And honestly, the cruelest act anyone could have ever done to me would have been to look at me when I was not a believer and say, “You know what, “David doesn’t really believe in living for Jesus…I want to respect that.  I don’t want to bother him with that.  I don’t want to make him uncomfortable.”

But that would have been no gift to me.  Because there is a heaven and there is a hell.

And for someone to help condemn me to hell because they didn’t want to bother me…or challenge me…or make me uncomfortable…..........

How are you making me comfortable by allowing me to be sent to the greatest discomfort imaginable for all of eternity? 

That is not love folks.  Intellectual tolerance is not love. 

Often…it’s quite cruel.

But Jesus did come…and he came to die…for ungodly people like me.

He has grace and forgiveness…even for ginormous sinners like me. 

And there are so many people in this church that can attest God’s changing grace in their life.

IN fact, TWENTY-SEVEN adults are getting baptized this week on Wednesday at 7pm at Paul & Ginnelle Edgett’s house in Blaine.   Everybody’s invited!

Wow!  How awesome is that?

Twenty-seven people whose friends or family members had the courage to TELL them about Jesus…and now their lives have changed for eternity!

And on Wednesday, when you come and watch the baptism, you’re going to see that each of these people has a “sponsor” go in with them. 

They get to pick a person who was instrumental in them coming to faith.  Or in their faith development. 

And here’s my prayer for each of you at Renovation. 

That you would be SO bold in your faith…so confident in God’s love for ALL people…that at our next baptism…YOU would be getting in the pool…with your friend, your coworker, your family member, that right now…doesn’t’ know Jesus…..YET.

That you would own this Biblical truth.  That LOVE isn’t just to accept all ideas as equal. 

“No, TRUE love is to tell the people God has already strategically put in your life…about the Greatest love the world has ever known!

Do whatever it takes to introduce the people around you to the God that came on a rescue mission for them.  

In fact, inviting people to church can be a part of that process…sometimes it can be a good first step…and I want to actually challenge you to do that over the next 3 weeks. 

Even though a lot of churches just fold up shop for the summer…we’re actually praying that we would see a ton of your friends and family members meet Jesus this June.

God is using this church in incredible ways…and we believe he’s only going to continue to do so in the months and years to come!

In fact, just so you know…we’re actually going to give an invitation for people to accept Christ and become followers of Him at the end of all of the next 3 messages. 

So, I want you to seriously be praying about who you can invite to hear the Gospel…the Good news of Jesus.

In fact, a week from today…we have an amazing opportunity at Renovation. 

International Evangelist, Sammy Wanyonyi is coming to speak at Renovation.  If you’ve never heard of Sammy, I like to call him the Billy Graham of Africa.

He’s personally led a quarter of a million people to Christ.  A QUARTER OF A MILLION!

God is using him in an unbelievable way…all over the world…and he’s coming to Renovation next week.

So I’m serious, do whatever it takes to get your friends who don’t know Jesus here next week.  Or any of the next 3 weeks. 

(buy them breakfast, buy them lunch, pick them up, buy them a new car…whatever it takes) J

And let’s pray that God would help us step out of our MIXEDconceptions.

And that we would believe wholeheartedly that He IS the way, the truth, and the life…and may it change how we interact and TRULY love the people around us. 

Let’s pray. 


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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