Tolerance is popular with everyone these days. Why wouldn’t it be? If you are tolerant, than you have figured out how to live with each other in a respectful fashion. This is how it has been described to me. But, I think there is an unintended consequence of tolerance as it is being taught.
To be truly tolerant in this sense, one would need to be quite passive. I might tolerate a lot of things never say a thing about what I believe or think. In that case is tolerance helpful? Is there such a thing as a world where we just sing kumbya and eat marshmallows? I don’t see how that is possible.
We have differences. We have beliefs and sometimes these two things collide. What do we do about it? Do we just let things go and never stand up for anything? That might be tolerant, but it is not very helpful to people and their need for truth.
I bring this up because I have been considering what that all means in the context of youth ministry. I believe that a lot of teenagers shy away from confronting their friends when the are doing something obviously wrong because they don’t want to be the one to be accused of judging them. They feel like if they tell them that they have done something that is wrong, then they are guilty of putting themselves in the position of God.
The problem with that is that one of the roles of our relationship with other believers is to point out the sin in the other. No, this does not mean that we are better than anyone else. It just means that we need each other to help us to see those blind areas in life that are just not in line with scripture. It is vital that we do this.
Take Paul in Galatians as an example. He opposed Peter to his face because he was not acting in line with the truth of the gospel. Would that have been easy? No. It would have been easier just to let him do his thing, but the proclamation of the Gospel was at stake. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul also tells the church that they are to judge within, as really an accountability type ministry. It says to go as far as to expel the wicked man. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)
Tolerance, while culturally popular, is not what we are called to. To be clear, I am not talking about standing on a pedestal and claiming you are better than anyone else. What I am saying is that we need to stand for something. We need to be willing to say to our brother or sister in Christ what the truth is and show them that what they are doing is not in line with the Scriptures.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. You might be the only one willing to do so, but your voice could provide the direction your friend needs to get back on track with God. Your voice might prevent people from getting into conflict over trivial matters that distract from the Gospel. Who knows, your voice might even save their life.