There are several other reasons why there is a trend in Christ’s universal church for its members to have apparently lost their vigor to uphold biblical truth and begin to go along with non-biblical ideals and new traditions based on “political correctness” and the such. I think you know what changes in our society and the church I’m speaking of. The focus of this month’s blog is to make the subtle distinction between tolerance and acceptance. The reason this is important to understand is because we Christians are told we must “accept” these changes. The world truly believes that we can accept its non-biblical ideals, rules and laws and lifestyles without compromising our spiritual integrity. To them, accepting is merely acknowledging that those ideals, etc. exist. However, as I said, it goes further than that. The Christian must accept those things or they’re considered phobic outcasts. The Christian can’t win.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, excerpts from the full definition of the word “accept” is as follows:
2: to give admittance or approval to
3 a: to endure without protest or reaction
b: to regard as proper, normal or inevitable
c: to recognize as true; believe
4 a: to make a favorable response to
Do you see how the word “accept” is not passive? It is not just the admittance that something exists. It is an active word that requires participation and approval as being “proper and true”. To “believe”! Therefore, giving approval to anything non-biblical is actually admitting that we believe in it. The lesson I’m trying to teach here is how loose we can become with words sometimes. For example, “I love you”. Well, what kind of love are we talking about? What intensity? “You’re my friend.” Best friend? More than an acquaintance?
Understand, this is my blog with my own personal opinions. When I contemplate same-sex marriages, for example, though I do not accept them as being biblical, I must tolerate them (again, Merriam-Webster:
to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)
The word “accept” here is used in such a way that it is understood that another person has the right to live their lives the way they decide. It does not mean (as stated above) that we buy into that lifestyle as being proper and true. Every single person is born with God-given free will to make their life choices. We must tolerate their right to do so. However, on the flip side of the coin, others must respect the right we have to live by the Bible. As I started out in this blog, this is disintegrating before our very eyes. That is not my focus this month. The biblical use of the word “tolerate” (“sufferest” in the KJV) means “to let be; to permit or leave alone”. “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” Revelation 2:20 ESV
In this instance, some at the church of Thyatira were to be plagued with great affliction for following the doctrine of the false prophetess Jezebel. However, those who did not fall under her spell were still reprimanded for allowing their fellow Christians to fall by tolerating her teachings and immoral practices. So here is a case where it seems the biblical example set forth is to actively not tolerate some ideals and actions so as to not pollute the spiritual integrity of Christ’s church. Paul experienced much of the same dilemma with the church of Corinth tolerating incest. 1st Corinthians 5:1
Does this mean it is o.k. to burn down or bomb abortion clinics? Does it even mean it’s fine to wear T-shirts or carry picket signs that say “God hates fags”? No! Speaking of polluting the integrity of Christ’s church! We can work within the law as much as the law will allow to exert as powerful of a voice against anti-biblical ideals as we can, but in the end it is God who fights for us. And He doesn’t need our hate-inspired motives to get in the way of His perfect plan. Our greatest weapons are prayers of faith and Holy Spirit-led acts inspired by agape love.
Is there an appropriate time and situation to disobey the law? Civil disobedience is the intentional act of disobeying a civil law or authority because of a conviction that one has a higher responsibility. For a believer, those "higher responsibilities" are found in the Bible and nowhere else. The aim of Christian civil disobedience is to follow God despite the rule of an ungodly authority. When obeying man's law would put us in direct disobedience to the clear command of God, then, and only then, is civil disobedience warranted. However, the Christian is not relieved from the legal consequences of their actions. Yet, I like to keep in mind the loyal protection of my Lord.
We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. No matter how “unbiblical” of a life a person may be leading, we have been taught by Christ to love them. It is the hope they will see His love in and through us and realize their trespasses. We all sin. We are all broken. We all need Christ – nonbelievers and believers. Let us trade in hasty judgment for compassion. Let us build bridges to the lost with God’s love! As hard as it is sometimes, we are to pray for our enemies and those who would persecute us. But let no one take away our right to boldly stand up for the Truth, accepting none other, even to the death.