Here comes another “Dear Amy” (you’re off the hook today, Abby) letter that represents how misunderstood God-fearing people are in the world today.
In short, a child of Atheists is upset because her friend, a child of Christians, told her they can’t be friends because the Christian parents believe the Atheist girl will be a bad influence. Amy is very sympathetic to the Atheist child and complimentary to the parents (who wrote the letter) saying this is a great opportunity to teach their daughter about tolerance and intolerance.
And you know what? Amy is right. The Christian’s are intolerant. In fact, God is intolerant. God says so, more than once:
Ezekiel 44:23– “They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.”
Leviticus 19:19– “Keep my decrees. “Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”
2 Corinthians 6:14– “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
These are repeated, in one way or another, throughout the Tanakh and New Covenant writings. God wants His people to be holy, which means, literally, separated. You can’t be separated from the unholy when you are playing with and living with and (yes, even this) working with the unholy.
When Bilam was unable to curse the Israelites (Numbers, Chapter 22) he got around that by suggesting to the Moabite king to have the women get “friendly” with the Israelite men, and by doing so they will influence them to begin to worship the Semitic gods of the Moabites.
And it worked.
Tolerance in today’s world is more than tolerance- it is passive acceptance. According to Dictionary.com (if you want to get a worldly opinion, go to the Internet, right?) tolerance is:
a fair, objective, and permissive (bold added by me) attitude toward those whose opinions,beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry
There is a much more ancient definition, one I found using an historic, out-dated form of research called “looking it up in the Webster’s dictionary”:
to put up with; to recognize and respect the opinions and rights of others; to endure
There is a difference between tolerating something and accepting something as “right.” If someone living next to me is loud and un-neighborly, I think that is a very wrong way to act but I can tolerate them. But, if they are selling drugs I cannot tolerate that and must report them to the police. There is a level where tolerance becomes intolerance, meaning (simply) that I will not accept that behavior and will do what I can to either change it or get away from it.
Intolerance doesn’t mean bigotry, but today these two words are treated as synonyms.
God is intolerant of non-Believers. God says we are to be separated and holy, kept from that which is unclean and sinful. Yet, we are to be a light to the nations and Yeshua says no one lights a lamp and places it under a basket. So what does that mean? Are we to be tolerant? Should we intermix with sinners? Is God saying to stay to ourselves, become communal hermits from the world? If we do that, if we remain separated from the world, how can we be a light to the world?
We must be intermingling with the unholy, we must bring light to the darkness, we must be in the midst of the unclean to bring the cleanliness of God’s deliverance to them.
What we must be careful not to do is become influenced by the world. We are commanded to be holy, for God is holy, and we are commanded to make Disciples. How can we make Disciples or show our light to the world if we are separated and apart from the world?
It is a conundrum, to be sure.
God tests our faith- we see that throughout the Bible. Abraham and Isaac, Jonah, Gideon, Kefa (Peter) walking on the water to Yeshua…all of these are tests of faith that God performed not to find out for Himself but to show us, ourselves, the level of our own faithfulness. Testing of faith is something we do for our benefit and the benefit of those watching us, and don’t think for an instant you aren’t being watched by the non-Believers! They are watching us like a hawk looking for a rabbit, and that predator-prey relationship is exactly what it is like. Non-Believers look for any excuse to show that God-fearing people are intolerant (as the world describes it, meaning bigoted and racist) in order to discredit God.
They do not understand what it means to be holy, and (frankly) they don’t care- they don’t want to be holy, and when you don’t want to be something you make that something look as unwanted and undesirable as you can.
We are to be intolerant of sin, but we are also to love the sinner. Love the sinner, hate the sin, and we can do both. To a Believer, tolerance should be accepting that others are different and they have that God-given right to be. God gave us all free will so we can choose to love Him from our desire to do so. Consequently, we also have the right and freedom to reject Him. That is all part of what God has given each and every one of us, and as people of God we should respect and honor what God has done and not condemn it.
Basically, we are to be holy and show the world what that means. We need to get dirty, we need to soil ourselves with fleshly exposure and we need to walk into the midst of Hell to see what souls we can save: we always have the blood of Messiah to cleanse us. I am not saying we should sin, just that we should allow ourselves to be exposed to the sin of others in order to bring them out of their sin.
Truth is, you can’t work with fish all day and not come home smelling of fish.
If you think that isn’t right, then ask yourself why did Yeshua strip off His righteousness and give up His divine spiritual being to become a flesh and blood human? He took off His divinity and put on the mantle of disgusting, earthly flesh, with all it’s stench and filth, and wore it while acting perfectly holy. His light shone through His flesh and taught us all that it is possible to be light, to be holy and to be God-fearing while in the world.
Both Yochanan and Shaul (John and Paul) tell us that although we are in the world, we are not part of it. We are separated, but we are also present: we are separated from the world spiritually but we are still in the world physically, so we need to show those in the flesh the way to join us in the spirit.
You can’t do that by being physically apart from the others.
I think the Christian family is doing what they think is right, but they are wrong. They should trust in God, and if the faith of their children is strong enough, then the Christian child should be allowed to play with the Atheist child as a means to deliver the light into the darkness. In fact, the Atheist child should be invited into their home and welcomed to show what the love of God means in the real world.
We are the messengers of God, and the symbols of His kingdom; you can’t deliver a message to someone unless you talk to them.