They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. John 7:53-8:6a
Tolerance is a word heard frequently in our culture. More and more, it seems our society has the mindset that, if they’re not hurting anyone, they can do whatever they want. And, these seeming innocuous choices should be acceptable to everyone. Their desire is freedom to choose and acceptance by all. Acceptance has become the new tolerance. Perhaps this thinking is driven by the feeling things are just easier this way. It’s easier to only have to deal with the “what”; no one has to answer any hard questions (the “why”).
Having spent most of my life working in Information Technology (even before it had that name), I’ve found stopping change is similar to stopping a boulder rolling downhill with your body. Learning to tolerate change, and those involved, has essentially kept me sane. A key part of this experience was really understanding why changing was necessary. Dialogue with one another, as Jesus did, may not always convince change is appropriate, but it can really help us accept change, and each other.
It’s important we learn to tolerate each other. But (re)learning tolerance in disagreement is key. Rare is the case where we fully accept the choices (or change) our friends and family make. The trick is to learn how to disagree and yet still be in viable community with each other. I can remember ‘arguing’ a point, not to to batter someone with my decision, but to explain in a coherent and level-headed way the reasons for my choices and beliefs, and doing so without compromising a relationship. Somehow our culture has really gone off the rails with our inability to do this.
In the end, moving those around us towards a better way of tolerance is to begin with ourselves. We know that our God is love. We know that the way of Jesus involves copious amounts of love. The key ingredient is love. Today, think about how you’ve handled hot-topic discussions with others. Perhaps roll back to the last several times you’ve argued a belief or decision with someone, and honestly assess how it went. If having Jesus visibly there would change your conversation, methods of discussion may need to change. If this is true, you have God, the Savior, and the Holy Spirit who’d love to ‘hear’ from you and help form your heart in love!
By Rich Obrecht