Tolerance is a word that really is so overused it’s embarrassing that we as a culture have let it get this bad. The word is used to basically say “hey you don’t like my view, but that’s too bad you better start to like it”. This is a complete oxymoron. If the person saying to tolerate their view, was actually tolerant, they would never ask to be tolerated themselves because they would already accept that the other person disagreed with them.
You see somehow we think that tolerate means that we have to accept the worldview of someone that we disagree with and frankly, that’s just not what it means to tolerate. The fact that people aren’t killing each other over lifestyles, world views, political parties, and religion is pretty good evidence that here in America most people are indeed pretty tolerant. Sure they speak their minds, and they speak what they believe, but at the end of the day both sides of whatever issue is being discussed goes home and continues on with their life. Clearly we are already tolerating each other when it comes to major divides. Granted, every now and then you have your crazy people who take it way too far and don’t tolerate but instead hurt other people, but again even when things like that happen generally the majority of the population takes a stand against such harmful action.
Not only is the word tolerance misused. It’s completely overused as well. We are growing up in a culture that is constantly saying “tolerate everyone and everything” and this is extremely dangerous. Why? Because there are things we shouldn’t tolerate ever. Rape is a great example, I do not tolerate rape, I think rapists should be put in prison. I don’t tolerate murder, I don’t tolerate people killing other people for the sake of religious differences and the list goes on. I don’t tolerate a lot of things, and that is an extremely good thing. There are things that people need to take a stand on and have absolutely no tolerance at all for.
Finally, when it comes down to it we as Christians are not called to tolerate. Nowhere do we see Christ say “And make sure you tolerate those tax collectors!” Instead Jesus went a step further and hung out with tax collectors, He ate dinner with them, and He loved them. Christians shouldn’t tolerate anyone, they should love everyone. And don’t let that sentence “They should love everyone” make you think of rainbows and butterflies, loving the unlovely is an extremely difficult challenge. Jesus teaches us that we are called to love people despite lifestyle, religious, or political views. To tolerate is to say “Yeah go on with your life, I’ll stand over here with my arms crossed scowling the whole time” but to love is to say “Yes I’m actively engaging in your life despite your crap because I have crap too and we really aren’t so different” That’s the power of ultimate love. Jesus brings us all down to the same level, one that is in desperate need of Him. It doesn’t matter how you got there, what matters is we realize that we are all human, and we all have problems, and all of us on some level are wrong in some way. None of us have it all figured out.
So forget tolerance, throw it out. Instead love people regardless of their crap, because you know what? You got crap too, and Jesus paid for your crap, and he paid for the other person’s crap (you know, the crap that you think is so bad that it gives you a right to put them under your feet).