I imagine that many Christians have asked themselves how they can find a balance between living a holy life while also reaching a level of tolerance and Christian influence among non-believers. We know that we are called to be separate from the world and its influences, but we are also called to be representatives of Christ to others. And so it becomes a kind of balancing act that Christians must achieve in order to simultaneously live out both of these dictates.
I read with interest recently how Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, went on CBS This Morning to answer some key questions about the issue of tolerance, a term he says that has been redefined in recent years.
When asked about issues such as same-sex marriage, Rick answered this way: “The problem is that tolerant has changed its meaning. It used to mean ‘I may disagree with you completely, but I will treat you with respect.’ Today, tolerant means, ‘you must approve of everything I do.’ There’s a difference between tolerance and approval. Jesus accepted everyone, no matter who they were. He doesn’t approve of everything I do, or you do, or anybody else does, either. You can be accepting without being approving.”
I think this is a well-thought-out description of how Christians need to be behaving in this morally ambiguous age. My dad often said, “we should hate the sin but love the sinner.” That’s what Christ did while He walked this earth, and it’s what Christ still does as He sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
We, as followers of Christ, must continue to convey the saving message of the Gospel to all people. At the same time, we need to make sure that we are not condemning people to the point that they will not open their ears to the call of the Savior. It is a tricky world in which we live and we must be always seeking God’s wisdom in how we live. It behooves us, as representatives of the risen Christ, to be prayerfully attempting to live out our faith so that we are constantly drawing people to Him, instead of pushing them away.