25 January, 2010

Love vs Tolerance

So, Are We Loving and Accepting People or Are We Just Tolerating Them?

It's been another cold, blustery day here in the Burg and now that the day is winding down, I find myself sitting here in our living room, reflecting over the day and in fact, the past couple of weeks.
Let me preface this by saying that our church has adopted a new motto, actually an old motto, from Jerry Cook's 1979 book, entitled, "Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness." I've been stressing in my teaching and preaching over the past few months that we must offer unconditional love to people, accept them for who they are and where they have been in life and give them unconditional forgiveness. So, I write this now, from the premise of offering Love, Accptance and Forgiveness to all... not just those whom we pick and choose.

So anyway, now I'm sitting here thinking about the past couple of weeks and some of the issues that have come into our church's realm of influence. Here we sit, with a goal of offering a fresh start to anyone and everyone. And as I think back about conversations I've had, things I have witnessed and I find the need to remind myself and other that as we approach this mission field which Jesus has commissioned us to serve in, that we are in fact going to encounter some really "messed up" people. I mean people with real issues, sometimes extraordianary issues. Let's face it, some have issues and things going on in their lives that are unpleasant to us and we really don't really want to deal with them. Some bring with them baggage that we have prejudices against. Some will have body odor or stinking breath. Some will have done things in their past that deeply offend us... and may even effect us personally. But we must still greet them with open arms and offer love, acceptance and forgiveness. If we are truly interested in seeing people delivered and having their lives changed, then we have to come to grips with the fact that some of these people are going to grate on our nerves and rub us the wrong way.

So, as I'm sitting here thinking, I'm wondering even as I type this, will we show the love of Christ and truly offer them love, acceptance and forgiveness... I mean, really LOVE people or will we tolerate them in order to fulfill the desires of our flesh by satisfying our need to feel good about ourselves and our church?

Just today, someone asked me, "how many times am I supposed to forgive them?" Well, Jesus told Peter 70 x 7. That's a whole lot of forgiving!
It is interesting to remember what was taking place here.

Remember, Peter has just blown it and denied Christ and that he knew him. As we come to this passage, Jesus has just reinstated Peter to his "inner circle." I find it amazing that there was no long trial period to see if Peter was worthy or "good to go" or to prove himself. There was no probation period for him or a time of restoration. No, a simple question and answer session was sufficient and Peter was back in. Unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness in action!

So, my thinking is this... Are we really... I mean REALLY offering UNCONDITIONAL love, acceptance and forgiveness... or are we more or less tolerating some folks?
I think this is a question we should all ask ourselves: are we LOVING people or simply TOLERATING them?

1 comment:

Amy said...

First off GREAT blog Pastor... I know that real forgiveness is something God has taught me throughout my life .. Ive been through some VERY painful situations ..abuse ,being used ,meanness ,and backstabbing even conditional love, but I know that i have truly forgiven each person for everything .. Its HARD, real hard sometimes but true healing comes. God has given me the capacity to have compassion and mercy for people even when in the eyes of the world i should hate them... also we need to take our eyes off of the outside appearance of others and ask God to reveal the heart and pain of that person .. you don't know Their lives and what they are going through. Their pain may be so unbearable that the just give up caring for themselves or just give up on everything ... When you grasp the true meaning Of Gods love and even accept Gods true unconditional love and compassion for us then you can offer and extend it to others .