While the words hate, tolerance, and coexistance get thrown around a lot in our society, I wonder how often we really stop to consider what they mean and if we do (or even should) reflect them in our actions.
Love is another word that has become a bit cliche in our culture. It is shouted from the steps of our capitals, stickered to our bumpers, t-shirts, and water bottles. It’s everywhere in the news and most often attested to from people on both sides of every issue.
So how can it be that we all seem to stand for the same thing but there’s nothing close to unity among those of us who profess it?
A difference in both perception and expectation for how love is (and should be) personified. Real and lasting love stems from the unchanging truth found in Jesus Christ – which, when internalized, naturally brings about an identifiable unity among its people.
Ironically enough, then, the lack of unity attests to the fact that our love (as a whole) is not genuine.
Talk is cheap
Love is a choice and is represented with action. By no means does it always express itself with butterflies or excitement, but when we love someone, we do consistently nurture their growth, uniqueness, and independence. We do this selflessly and without condition.
Note that we can tell anyone we want that we love them until we’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t mean anything unless we express it with action.
St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
We can love and disagree
If the above is true, it would mean that we can love each other and disagree – harmoniously! Western culture tells us that disagreement generally infers hate – which ironically presumes a lack of tolerance.🤔 And while this is not true, the manner in which people disagree can usually reflect something of what’s going on in their hearts (i.e. resentment, bitterness, selfishness, jealousy, etc.).
If one of my good friends decided that reuglarly smoking recreational marijuana was a good thing for him and I disagreed, that wouldn’t mean that I hate him. Neither is it hate to tell him my opinion, how I feel, or to choose not to support him in anything that has to do with his marijuana preferences. I wouldn’t tell him this because of pride or arrogance, but because I love him and don’t want him to suffer the possible long-term damages or consequences. (Read NCBI’s Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use.)
Our culture — especially our media — confuses this and, in turn, tries to draw us along into naivety.
Western society muddles the lines for love and hate around acceptance and relativity. Accepting someone the way they are (in genuine love) is always the right thing to do. But Jesus loves each of us the way we are and He also loves us enough not to leave us that way. We dishonor Him (and our friends and neighbors) if we accept anything less.
If we say something to someone that is headed down a path of destruction, we’re often told we’re being intolerant, bigoted, or hateful. But in reality we’re just trying to help them see the danger that will ensue should they continue down the path they’re on.
This does not mean that the second I meet someone and learn their LGBTQ+ lifestyle that I should begin a restless endeavor to convert them. Sincere love and friendship come first; trust must be built if there is any hope in them ever crossing the bridge. That being said, no friendship should ever be based on manipulation. Pure and sincere love is always and forever the goal and number one priority.
If someone I love comes to me and tells me he’s gay, it is not hate to tell him the truth (in gentleness) and explain the implications of the choice to live out that preference – that acting in sin (based on what God has taught us through natural law) keeps him from the joy and freedom that he deserves, or worse, that it may be enough to send him to Hell.
[Note: this is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and the person will most likely (and obviously) be upset and defensive. As with all things – it must be handled in time and with prayer.]
On a different note, but to the same point, if I ever learned that one of my children had fallen into some kind of addiction, I would do everything, at any cost – with tough love as necessary, to bring my child back into a safe and healthy life filled with temperance.
It would be wrong, ethically and religiously, not to share the truth just like it would be wrong not to warn my three-year-old of the dangers and risks of running into the street without looking. I am obligated to do this because I love him and want what’s best for him.
Is real truth relative?
I’m sure many of you are asking, “what if my truth is different than yours?”
To this, I reply that some things can be seen through perspective (what shade of blue is that?) and others cannot (2 + 2 = 4). We live on Earth and Earth has gravity – this is a fact.
Everything in existence fulfills its greatest purpose when it responds to its environment per the natural course of its given anatomy.
Bees were meant to pollinate flowers as evidenced by years of scientific proof – we all know this. If they did not, and one day decided they were going to pollinate the grass, we would lose out on a significant source of pollinated seed plants that would invariably deprive us of a major source of fruit. Hence it would be best (for the sake of all living creatures) if bees continue to thrive where they will be most fruitful and lively.
We all feel most joyful and fulfilled when we seek and honor our natural purpose.
When it’s all said and done…
I’m going to guess that some of you reading this might doubt the existence of God – this is totally okay. But when push comes to shove and this life is over, we are all going to find out which one of us was right.
If you’re right, I’m not hurt. When I die, I’m just dead; I no longer exist. Either way, I can know I was happier believing in God than I was before I thought I’d met Him. I wouldn’t change my choice of how I lived for anything.
But if I’m right, and you chose to live in sin, you’re going to face a hell of a lot of trouble.
Telling you this is NOT hate. I believe that each of us had better check into our personal convictions and take them very seriously. We might want to consider the vast difference between the possibilities of Heaven and Hell if we care at all about where we might be spending eternity (i.e. forever).
God gave us free will
Our friends, family, neighbors, etc. do not have to accept what we know as truth; it is not ours to force it on them. But that doesn’t mean it’s not reality. God is a reality whether we believe in Him or not. And we shouldn’t allow our culture to scare us out of showing and telling it to them as we are called. Not as nagging, angry (i.e. hateful) crazies, but as friends offering a hopeful gift and new life to those we love.
In the opening paragraph, I noted that our lives are regularly sprinkled with the word tolerance – like if we would just tolerate one another there would be peace. But, I’m not a fan of that word. It implies that I have to deal or put up with someone. I don’t want to tolerate people, I want to love them – just as they are; disagreements and all. This is the better (and legitimate) route to peace.
The same can be said for coexistence. Per a quick Google search, to exist is partially defined as to live, especially under adverse conditions. I just don’t feel that we have to view each other through that lens; it’s a disservice to ourselves and those around us.
Whatever happened to seeing Christ in everyone? God does not discriminate (see Romans 2:11) and neither should we (see James 2:9), yet we often scream, taunt, and jeer each other in the name of love – frequently for no more of a reason than that we disagree! 🧐
This is completely unacceptable…and definitely not a representation of the love of Jesus.
Buzz words or real love?
If you want to see what real love looks like open your bible to the New Testament. Look for the red letters found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The words of this God-man (Jesus Christ) attest to what it’s all about and came to show us how it’s done – he lived a humble, human life for 33 years and then suffered, died on a cross, and rose again for the forgiveness (and repentance) of our sins so we can spend all of eternity with Him. He loved you that much!
Look to Jesus as your true guide – not people, because we will all fall short and fail you at one point or another. Ask for the grace to honor the natural laws He put into place for your personal well-being and happiness. It might take time, but He will answer this prayer and help you understand.
Once it hits home, I promise that you’ll be forever sold.
Hate is horrible. And though tolerance, acceptance, and coexistence are not inherently bad, I don’t understand why we would settle for these when God has so much more to offer us in real love through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
For King and Country: The Proof of Your Love
This video is worth watching – not just listening.
Upon meeting Christ personally, we know His love.
In Love, we’ve been given the authority to speak out against the wrongs of our culture and for the truths of eternity. We don’t have to fall in line, becoming zombies to what we’re told. We are the militant of Christ called to rebel against the lies of this world that can hold us captive.
“If I sing but don’t have love, I waste my breath with every song I bring – an empty voice, a hollow noise. If I speak with a silver tongue, convince a crowd but don’t have love, I leave a bitter taste with every word I say.”
And our love is most convincing when our choices and actions align with our words.
This beauty is highlighted (in the video) as the characters speak the truth in love. When they do, you can see the power that goes forth sending the blind tumbling and allowing the scales to fall from their eyes.
We stand as Christ’s hands, feet, and mouth on Earth. We are called to be light. But it’s the genuine love (that flows from the Holy Spirit) that sets this all in motion.
Always speak the truth and act in love, that all people would have the opportunity to know freedom, love and safety in Jesus Christ