In recent times, our country has had issues with tolerance, or rather- the lack of it. Everyone seems to create a huge fuss every time someone does or says something that they don’t agree with. We are caught arguing over issues and condemning people for their decisions, words and actions. We focus on their lives, their mistakes, their losses and soon we are fit to play judge.
I’m not writing to promote an all permissive lifestyle or to declare the guidelines one ought to live by. I write this to promote unity. Unity that comes in diversity; in the beauty of accepting that, while holding on to the fundamental truths, our love & relationship with Christ can be expressed in different ways.
The Bible presents a rhetorical situation of a person who believes he can eat anything on the table, while the other believes he should not eat meat. Both are guests at Christ’s table. Considering that Christ invited them both for a meal, it makes criticism towards each other and arguments about what they should eat or not seem pointless. It’s unfortunate that we can be bothered by another’s personal choice, to such an extent. If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned I’m certain- God can handle that.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” -Galatians 5:13-15
God calls us to unity rather than uniformity. To look at each other and appreciate the many ways of loving and serving. Forget about deciding what’s right for each other, we’ve already got our hands full taking care of our own life before God!
Here’s what we really need to be concerned about: that everything we do is for the glory of God and that we don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. If you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God. If you don’t, thank God for your broccoli. The point is, none of us are permitted to insist on our own way being the only way.
So where does that leave us when we brutally criticize each other? I’d say, it leaves us looking pretty silly. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side, facing God. Our critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve our position there one bit. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between.
Besides, what do we gain if we confuse others by creating a huge issue over what they do? In dealing with anyone we ought to remember that Christ died for them just as he did for you. We, too, were saved not by our merit but by God’s grace and we ought to extend the same grace to others.
The beauty lies in seeing what God does with our lives as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Our task is to single-mindedly and whole- heartedly serve Christ. To be sensitive and respect each other’s beliefs but also teach, train and rebuke. To build each other up, correct each other in love and not tear down by finding fault.
I wish we could agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Our highest priority is to cultivate our own relationship with God without imposing it on others. Love each other, including those who don’t see things the way you do. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” -John 15:12