Category Archives: Diversity

Defining Tolerance

Defining Tolerance

Defining Tolerance

Tolerance is a word that’s tossed around a lot these days. People are constantly accusing Christians of being intolerant, bigots, and closed-minded. Then, we in turn accuse the accusers of being intolerant based on their very definition of tolerance! If we are intolerant because we refuse to embrace their worldview as equally valid, wouldn’t that consequently make them intolerant of us as well? It seems like a vicious cycle doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the word “tolerance” is abused in our current culture. It seems as if the problem lies in the definition of tolerance. So maybe if we start by defining what tolerance truly is and what it is not, we can come to some common ground.

What tolerance is NOT:

  • Agreeing with another’s belief system or opposing worldview
  • Acceptance of an idea, belief or lifestyle (especially if it opposes your own) as being true or equally true
  • Refusing to believe in objective or absolute truth
  • Conceding that somebody is right, when you believe that they are wrong
  • Believing that others’ opposing views must align with your own

What tolerance IS:

  • Allowing for differences, disagreements and opposition in a kind, compassionate and respectful way
  • According to the Oxford Dictionary, tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.”
  • Another definition listed is “the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction.”

Note the secondary definition. Taken from a relational perspective, this would mean to endure opposing conditions (or people) without reacting adversely or in a hostile way. 

My favorite take on tolerance

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Why Christians Get Offended When Jesus Gets Attacked

This past week, I tried to convey to one of my classes why Christians get offended sometimes, at least from my perspective. I wanted to share a little insight about why this might get so heated from a Christian perspective...

Why Christians Get Offended When Jesus Gets Attacked

Recently in my college classes we discussed diversity issues and how they can affect us in college and in life. One of the exercises we do in class is called “Examining Your Own Prejudices”. It involves each student taking an index card and anonymously writing a couple of sentences about a group of people that they have the most difficulty with. I then read each of the cards aloud, and we have a class discussion about them. We talk about where these prejudices come from, how to prevent stereotyping an entire group based on them, how to work with groups with which we have difficulties, and so on.

It’s usually a pretty controversial, yet enlightening exercise. It never fails…in each class I’ve taught there is usually a card mentioning a problem that someone has with Atheists (or non-Christians). There’s also a card or two listing Christians as the problem group. These two types of cards have a tendency to bring on the most discussion, sometimes heated. It’s often because Christians get offended and hurt by some of what’s said.

This past week, I tried to convey to one of my classes why Christians get offended sometimes, at least from my perspective. I wanted to share a little insight about why this might get so heated from a Christian perspective, and why we get so hurt when people speak badly of Jesus. I shared with them a note I had typed into my phone a while back.

Imagine a friend showing up at the worst time of your life

Imagine that you go through the hardest time of your life. You end up meeting this friend, Continue reading

Scriptures to help when you feel attacked or persecuted …

Scriptures to help when you feel attacked or persecuted …

Scriptures to help when you feel attacked or persecuted…

Last week I shared how to respond when people offend you.  I discussed recent incidents of feeling a tad bit persecuted, and how I’ve decided to react when it happens.  On many occasions I’ve had to fight the urge to fight back!  Even though we know the right way to respond (or NOT respond), it’s still hard sometimes to deal with the attacks.  In light of that, this week I’ve put together a list of scriptures that can be helpful and encouraging when you feel you are being attacked or persecuted.  It’s helpful to know that we’re not alone and that God has given us some encouragement and direction on this topic.

Persecution is a term we can relate to being treated differently in a negative context.  To persecute is to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment; to harass persistently; or to annoy or trouble persistently.  The Bible is chock-full of stories where Christians were persecuted.  In the Old Testament, Noah was criticized and thought of as crazy for building an ark, the Hebrews were oppressed and made as slaves in Egypt before their exodus with Moses, Joseph was harassed by his brothers, and there are countless other stories in the Old Testament.  Throughout much of the New Testament, Christians everywhere were persecuted, even (and especially) Jesus Christ, Himself.

Present-day Christians encounter persecution of all kinds…even death.  It’s both humbling and easier to bear being picked on, attacked, insulted, and persecuted when we know that across the world there are others suffering much, much worse.   

Why do you think Christians are persecuted—what’s the cause?

It’s often hard not to ask the question “why me?” when we are being treated differently, being persecuted or just being left out, but the bible reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that trials (persecution included) are common to man—meaning that they happen to us all.  1 Peter 4:12-29 also tells us not to be surprised when trials come against us as if it’s strange, like it shouldn’t be happening.  There are times when we will share in some of Christ’s sufferings.  However, Romans 8:18 reminds us that even though we might experience suffering in the present, it will not even compare to the glory that will be revealed to us later.  If we are ever persecuted for being a Christian or living right, God will make it right someday—He’s got our backs.  God is our avenger.  We just have to remember that things aren’t always peachy just because we are Christians.

Like I briefly mentioned in the last post, we might even consider it a compliment that the devil thinks of us as enough of a threat that he has to mess with us!  That must mean we’re doing something right!  The devil comes against us (or uses other people or circumstances to come against us) because we look like God (Genesis 5:1 says man is made in God’s own image).  The devil can’t get to God so he comes after us.  A good thing to remember is this—that if you’re not pleasing God, you’re pleasing the devil; and if you’re pleasing the devil, you’re not pleasing God.  We should seek to please God by being the people He calls us to be—by being different from the world.  It is better to be a God-pleaser than a people-pleaser, world-pleaser or devil-pleaser!!  A very sweet reader sent me an encouraging e-mail last week saying, “Praise God for people like you who stand up to Satan’s “temper tantrum”.”  I loved that!  I hope these verses will be an encouragement to you too to stand up to Satan’s temper tantrums!

Scriptures to help when you feel attacked or persecuted…

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