Robert's Ruminations

The thoughts of Revd. Robert, Minister for Emmanuel, Ilfracombe

Christian Tolerance

I’m sure that very few of us go through life without joining some kind of club or group. Some people take great pride in their membership of a whole range of different groups, from the local neighbourhood watch to an international charity. For some people, the more select a club or group is, the better they feel, as they believe that membership of such a club gives them a particular status in their society or group of friends and acquaintances.

The actor, Victor Mature, renowned for taking on acting roles that quite often saw him portrayed as a rather leaden romantic actor, applied for membership of one of the most prestigious clubs in America – the Los Angeles Country Club. His membership was turned down with the comment, ‘we do not accept actors’. Victor was quick to reply, ‘I’m no actor, and I have a string of 64 films to prove it!!’. He may have been right, but he still didn’t get in!

 

It’s true, joining a particular group, whether religious, political or social, can certainly enlarge our world and introduce us to new people and new possibilities. Yes, it can help us to move within a relatively secure network of relationships. And yes, we can have that comfort of knowing that we belong and that’s important for our sense of identity. Membership is proof that others accept us for who and what we are.

But we have to be careful, because when we apply to join a group or a club, we may encounter the same attitude as Victor Mature did. The flip side to acceptance is rejection, and rejection is a clear sign of disapproval of us as individuals.

In Jesus’ day, he chose those he called to be his disciples. They didn’t have to apply – he looked into their hearts and saw just what kind of people they were. He knew their strengths and weaknesses and he chose them to join him on what was most likely, the greatest adventure of all time. They wouldn’t have known what was in store for them when they started out and I’m sure they certainly would never have imagined how things would end up, but they went with Jesus and became the first of a world-wide, history defying movement called Christianity.

This movement is something that is freely on offer to all of us if we are willing to follow Jesus and his teachings in our lives. But one of the main rules of this group is that all are welcome. In abiding by that tenet, then it also transpires that we must show tolerance for those who are different to us, think differently to us, act differently to us, have different hopes, aspirations, cares and concerns to us. That tolerance does not allow us to reject others and other ways of Christian discipleship. We do no justice to God by erecting barriers to keep people out from our little part of God’s kingdom. We must take pride in belonging to a community that does not denigrate the good work of those who we see as not being ‘one of us’.

We must learn to be tolerant to those who seek Christ in their lives and strive to be the conduit by which others may come to know Christ as their Saviour in their lives. We must be the ones who welcome others with open arms and embrace them with love. That is the heart of the gospel message.

Christian tolerance is something that is always larger than ourselves. If we are accepting of others then God will be accepting of us. Let’s be humble before the greatness of God, after all, if God risks hoping in us, why should we deny his hope in others?

Every blessing,

Robert.

Hope in a hope-less world!
Locked doors
 

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

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