Our Calling As Christians
We live in a diverse country and world. There are many different cultures, languages, religions, races, and political views; sadly this diversity of people often don’t get along with or understand one another. In the midst of the conflict, disagreement, and misunderstanding in our world we hear calls for tolerance. These calls for tolerance are very needed in a world where we see so many people denying the dignity and/or humanity of another; however, as Christians, we are not called to a life of tolerance.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”- Matthew 22:36-40
As Christians we are called to love. In commanding us to love, Jesus does not tell us to only love certain people, rather his instruction includes all people. Jesus tells us to love each other, that is our fellow Christians. He tells us to love our neighbor, that is those whom we share our town, our nation, our world. He tells us to love our enemy, that is those who were are at odds with, those people who are for one reason or another against us. Jesus’s command to love leaves no one out. He even tells us to love ourselves when he instructs us to love our neighbor as our self.
Love goes far beyond tolerance. Tolerance is “accepting behavior and beliefs that are different from your own, although you may not agree with or approve of them.”* Whereas love, when described by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, is “patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” To love someone else is to put their needs before your own needs and wants. Love looks radical in the midst of tolerance. In loving we give of ourselves for the sake of others and the world, just as Christ gave himself for our sake. So in the midst of a world of tolerance let us love and in so doing show the world the God who is love.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:7-8
*Definition of tolerance found at dictionary.cambridge.org