THE TOLERANCE ZONE.
"Submitted for your approval," says the black and white image of the man on the television, "is the story of a middle school student we'll call him Brad. When his grandmother died, Brad wanted to make a small tribute to her in shop class. He carefully drew the dimensions of the pieces of wood that were to be assembled. The shop teacher allowed him to cut and sand the pieces in class but would not allow him to assemble them at school because it might be offensive, even illegal, to do so. Brad completed his project a wooden cross at home."
Does Brad's story seem odd to you? Maybe even a little spooky? Like something out of The Twilight Zone? Well, unfortunately, it's true. Brad was not allowed to craft a simple wooden cross as a tribute to his grandmother because someone the teacher, the school, or the school district thought it would be "intolerant" of other people's beliefs.
That sort of thing is happening more and more in our society, especially to Christians. Christian kids are often told that they should keep their beliefs to themselves, that to talk about Christ or to wear a Christian T-shirt or to take a biblical stand on certain issues is to be "intolerant," even bigoted or hateful.
A few years ago tolerance meant respecting everyone's right to his or her opinion. Today, however, tolerance means believing and teaching that everybody's ideas and opinions are right. There's a big difference between those two views. There's nothing wrong with the first, but there's everything wrong with the second.
God does command his people to respect others and to treat others with love and dignity. He calls us to be loving and to act justly (Micah 6:8). His Word says, "Try to live in peace with everyone" (Hebrews 12:14). But that doesn't mean that we should call evil "good," and good "evil." It doesn't mean that we should act as if there were no such things as right and wrong.
God's Word has not changed. It still gives this command: "Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks you why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy" (1 Peter 3:15, The Message).
REFLECT: what's the difference between respecting everyone's right to his or her opinion and believing that everybody's ideas and opinions are right? Can you do the first without doing the second? What views do you tolerate? What are you intolerant of?
PRAY: Turn to 1 Peter 3:15 and pray the words of verses 15-17 (for example, you might pray, "God, help me always to be ready to speak up... and remind me that...")