Tolerance

25 08 2010

I was reading an article from Children’s Ministry Magazine’s website this afternoon concerning tolerance.

They make this statement, “We’re called to demonstrate the love of Jesus — even to those who are involved in practices we don’t approve of or that are different from ours, without losing our personal convictions and understanding of the truth.”

As much as I agree with the statement that the love of Jesus must be presented to all people (even those in sinful practices), but, the ones involved in sinful practices which they use in their argument are ones within the faith community (whether Jewish or Christian).

Tolerance of other people’s faith does not deal with those issues, it deals with tolerance of other belief systems by the non-believer (non-Christian).  We definitely don’t want kids to be taking a little Jesus with a little Buddha, and a little this or a little that.  The article continues by addressing that,

Our kids will always be faced with these issues and probably even more issues in the future. It’s important that we help children develop personal convictions and core beliefs based on God’s truths. Otherwise they’ll become the kind of people James wrote about: “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

This is absolutely true!

But, how are we to guide our children in their interactions with other kids of different faiths?

CMMag says,

  • Never argue. Arguing with people who have differing views rarely — if ever — works. In fact, arguments convey intolerance and alienate people.
  • Ask questions. Use Jesus’ method of asking questions to help people think. For example, ask, “Why do you think God would allow his Son to die if there were other ways to get to heaven?” or “Would you be willing to explore more about what Jesus said before you totally discount that he’s the only way?”
  • Quote Jesus. Tell kids to share with friends the very words that Jesus used. Say something like, “All I know is what Jesus said. He said that he is the way, the truth, and the life. And that no one comes to God but through him.”
  • Love people. In the end, kids need to be taught to love and respect all people — no matter what they believe. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what he calls us to do.

And as much as I agree with this, I think that the bottom line that they love people must be the strongest.  Our kids must be taught to show love and grace before they show any thing else.  Kids must be taught to love others who are different than them.  They must be exposed to others who are different than them.  This will not only develop tolerance, it will also develop true, loving relationships which will allow the kids to interact with non-believers in a way that reflects Jesus, not a spirit of intolerance.

One of my favorite bumper stickers says, “COEXIST.”  I couldn’t agree more.  We need to stop hating and trying to fight with people of other faiths.  We must be loving  of them even if we disagree.  Embrace others in the same capacity that Christ embraced others.  He argued and rebuked those inside the faith community.  He loved and embraced those who were not.

The bumper sticker teaching to "Coexist".

Does this mean that we agree with their teaching?  Absolutely not!  Does this mean that we accept their teaching as an alternative to God?  Absolutely not!  We hold the Christ is the only way!  But, we also lovingly show acceptance and tolerance of those who are different and teach our kids to do just as Christ did.

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