Overcoming our Culture’s Definition of Tolerance to Witness to Lost People
Tolerance has been redefined in this generation. The word formerly meant patience and respect for persons who held positions with which you disagree. Our culture has redefined the word to mean acceptance of every viewpoint as equally valid. Tolerance now means you embrace every belief as true. Suppose you believe Jesus is the only way of salvation but your friend believes all religions lead to heaven. Tolerance once meant you honored your friend’s opinion while patiently, persuasively trying to influence him or her to change their mind. Now, tolerance means you affirm your friend’s belief as equally true with your position. This new politically correct definition of tolerance denies absolute truth and pronounces “true” whatever any person believes to be true.
Christians sometimes adopt this point of view out of fear of judging others. They take seriously Jesus’ warning, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matthew 7:1). They are determined not to be judgmental, preferring to avoid confronting anyone about their behavior or beliefs.
However, the Bible is very clear—the gospel must be shared, without compromise. A good example is Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well (John 4). She was openly immoral (John 4:18) and tried to shift the focus by starting a debate about worship (John 4:19). Jesus was nonplussed and undeterred. He kept the focus on the woman’s need for a relationship with Him. Jesus didn’t say, “I understand your choices. If adultery is your sexual preference and worshipping your way makes you feel close to God, then I affirm the truth as you know it.” Instead, He confronted her immorality and confounded her misguided attempt to start an argument about worship practices.
When you share the gospel, your attitude should reflect humility and gentleness. When your words are steeped in compassion, even bold confrontation comes across as genuine love for the other person. Your witnessing role involves persuasion, sharing the gospel, and doing all you can to convince a person to place faith in Jesus. Don’t let a misguided definition of tolerance keep you from asking people to change their beliefs.
SOLUTION: Stand firm against the cultural definition of tolerance as accepting all beliefs as equally true. Avoid the devilish misconception that holding to the truth of the gospel somehow judges others who disagree with you. Determine to share the gospel with compassion, persuading others in appropriate ways to follow Jesus.
May God give us boldness to share the Gospel to a world that desperately needs Jesus!
- Bro. Dave