Try love instead of toleration

Jason Harshbarger

Jason Harshbarger

When we hear the word tolerance, what sort of a thought does it bring to mind? When someone tells you that you need to tolerate something, does it usually evoke a positive or negative thought? Probably the latter. Uh-oh, I am going to have to go along with something that might be weird! Oh man, I hope this is something I can halfway stomach.

It’s interesting to note that just the mention of the word tolerance usually makes one feel like they are on something less than comfortable ground. However, we live in a world that seems to dictate to us that we need to be just that- tolerant of others’ differences around us. We need to be tolerant to their tastes, their opinions, the choices they make, and probably above all, their beliefs (or lack thereof).

Who came up with this rule? Or did it just spring forth from a culture that so values and craves a multiplicity of choices and options? At first glance, tolerance could be a positive thing. It could allow and promote diversity among us (yes, this is very good). However, upon closer inspection, isn’t tolerance really just springing forth from our selfishness? People aren’t like me, so I need to put up with them. Ouch, that seems to smack of my large ego.

What is the answer, then, to how to deal with our differences? This actually is easy: LOVE. For what tolerance seems to speak to others (i.e. I will put up with what you think), love seems to show to others (i.e. I will move past your views and choose to care about you as a person).

Jesus once made a radical statement. Jesus once said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Now we are on to something: laying down our life, our pride, our will and our agendas so that we can put others ahead of ourselves. This seems like it would be a better starting spot to understand one another’s differences. Maybe then, our world might be a little better place to be in.

So instead of tolerating others, try loving them. It just might be what your world is missing.

Pastor Jason Harshbarger leads ZAO College Ministries. You can email him at [email protected]