I am lactose intolerant. So trust me on this, whether a single word I write after this makes sense, it is in everyone around me’s best interest that I do not have milk, cheese, ice cream, etc. Of course, I have discovered lactose free dairy products and I do enjoy these. Nevertheless, no amount of the “hair of the dog” in my case lactose products will make me tolerate them more. I don’t hate them. In fact, I am quite a fan of ice cream and do cheat at times, but the consequences are not pretty.
So NERD that I am, I looked up the word Tolerance and the following touches on several factions of that definition:
1 capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b : the act of allowing something : toleration
3 the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4 a : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure ; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen b : relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor
5 the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food
Should we settle for tolerance? Should we view our fellow human beings with a form of sympathy that sees those different from ourselves as victims? Should we choose to hold our tongues when someone obviously is making choices that are detrimental to them? Shall we embrace an attitude of indifference, so that we merely TOLERATE those who are different from ourselves?
Or as a Christian I ask myself shall I do what Jesus commanded:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34, 35 NIV)
There was an ad campaign a few years ago to curb driving under the influence that asked the question: “Would a friend let a friend drive drunk?” And there are so many other endings appropriate to that question. I may love someone deeply and yet not ‘tolerate’ their choices. I may have to ask myself some tough questions as to my motive and my intent and I certainly will need to pray, but “Would a friend let a friend ….?”
Can intolerance promote tolerance? And Really, IS tolerance the answer. Or is there a finer goal for living in a free, society governed by laws such as the USA which is based on the premise that “all…are created equal”? Will we become a society of people who indulge ANYTHING as long as it is progressive, popular, and promoted in every venue? For those who are Christians, as I am, will we allow the masses who choose the broad road to destruction to march to blindly to hell? Or will we LOVE like the Master and snatch them from “sin and the grave”?
Today, Lord, help me love like Jesus loves and speak truth like He spoke and treat all persons as those for whom Christ died. Amen