I was speaking to a friend who is a Christian and who is gay, who was saying about not wanting to be ‘merely tolerated’.
To be tolerated is a very low ambition, and as Christians we are not called to just tolerate people, -we can do better than that!- we are called to love people.
Really love them.
Not just say we do.
Jesus didn’t say “by this all people will know that you are my disciples that you tolerate one another”, the Christian Community is called to be recognised not by its uniformed theology, or its denomination or traditions, but primarily according to Jesus, by their love.
Jesus calls us to “Love one another as I have loved you” -this is probably one of the most challenging verses in the entire Bible, knowing Jesus showed the ultimate in sacrificial and committed love for the people he had made. Jesus doesn’t just tolerate people, and neither should we.
The Church is a family, where people shouldn’t just be tolerated but celebrated. Families many different views and thoughts, sometimes too families can be feisty, but families are meant to be people from different generations bound together by love.
When I read comments in the press from different Christian groups, I sometimes want to shout “that’s your brother or sister you are talking about!”
Friendships ought to be robust enough for their not to be unmentionable subjects to be avoided at all costs but be able to be able to listen and respond and listen again.
Yet the truth is friendships too often aren’t formed because people haven’t cross lines to meet and embrace one another.
It is not a question of love, or even tolerance, but rather so often the absence of a real relationship with respect on both sides.
Can you really say you love one another when so often bits of Christ’s Church keep themselves intentionally separate from each other and don’t know each other.
Let’s build relationships that are real and strong enough, underpinned with Christ like love, that celebrates and not just tolerates people and drop our walls down (on both sides) enough to listen, respond and listen again.
Is it just me, or does this whole Orlando stuff make me think that God is calling his Church to up its game a raise the bar in terms of loving people, not just outside the Church but also inside it too?