Is Christianity Intolerant?
There are a lot of opinions about Christianity found online and on social media, and many of them are based on hearsay. One popular opinion is that Christianity is intolerant, and the Bible is hate-speech. This belief has become so powerful, that it has begun to divide Christians into two categories: Affirming and non-affirming.
While there is a measure of intolerance and even hate in the Bible, these two words do not describe Christianity at all! In fact, the foundation for Christianity is love of the purest kind.
Is Society Intolerant of Christians?
I recently came across a Facebook discussion in a group, meant for e-commerce advice, debating Christianity. Out of curiosity, I scrolled through the comments, and not surprisingly, the majority of opinions were negative, and the main sentiment was that Christians should keep their beliefs to themselves.
The author of the post was seeking advice about what to do about a one-star review. The customer loved the seller’s product but gave a poor review because the seller included a little card in the package with an inspirational quote from the Bible.
Most of the people who commented on her post felt she deserved the bad review, and that Christianity had no place in business.
There is a strong intolerance for Christianity, which seems to be ever increasing. In the last decade, there has been a huge emphasis on the propagation of this message: all people are equal, each person is worthy and acceptable just the way they are, and all differences and beliefs should be embraced and affirmed – everyone accept the non-affirming Christian that is.
This indoctrination has also been extended to our children who receive this messaging in their schools and in children’s books, tv shows, and movies.
This messaging sounds right and good, but if you take a closer look and understand what people really believe, you would get an entirely different picture.
The truth is that society wants us to believe that all beliefs should be accepted and affirmed, but opposing views cannot co-exist without denying one of them. Christianity is not tolerated, and Christian beliefs are being called out as hate speech.
Obeying the Call
In Mark 16:15, Jesus commanded that his followers must go into all the world to preach the gospel. This wasn’t a command to only preach the gospel where it would be accepted or deemed appropriate, but everywhere and to everyone. And the reason Christians share the gospel message? Because Christians are commanded to love one another as Christ loved them and laid his life down for them.
The gospel message is a life-preserver – it literally saves lives – and the Christian does not want to withhold this life-saving truth any more than someone who knows CPR would standby and watch someone die.
Even if you don’t believe in the Bible and in the truth of salvation through Jesus, the Christian does believe in it. Their desire to share this truth with those around them is not to elevate themselves above others, or point out others’ flaws, but to save them.
The Apostle Paul shared this sentiment in Romans 9:2-3, “My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.” (NLT)
The heart of a true follower of Jesus is concern for those around them, and a desire for them to be saved.
Now, there are many Christians who don’t share the gospel and Christ’s love well, and sometimes their motivation may seem misplaced. But the foundation of Christianity and the heart of the gospel message is still the same: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23–24, NIV). Christians are not “right”, while everyone else is “wrong”. We are all wrong. We all fall short, and we all need to turn away from our sin. We are all in need of a Savior.
The Christian is not perfect and sinless. We still sin. But if we are true followers of Jesus, we “take up our cross” and die to our sinful nature daily. Christians are commanded to reject sin, not embrace it, or give it any other name other than sin.
The Call for Intolerance
The Christian then, is called to be intolerant of sin. We must hate sin and reject it. We ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light on the sin in our lives so that we can root it out and reject it. Jesus came to set us free from the slavery of sin, and though we are not entirely free of our fleshly desires, we have the ability through Christ to reject that which is not righteous and holy.
If you have been wondering why Christians continue to sin, check out this post of my study in Romans 6. Yes, Christians still sin, but it’s not something we celebrate and tell the world to accept and affirm. We call it sin, and if our hearts are right with the Lord, we pray for strength and perseverance to reject and overcome that sin. And a Christian who is growing in the Lord will begin to sin less and less.
Christians are commanded to be intolerant of sin, but not the sinner. We are commanded to love others just as Jesus does. He loved sinners so much he gave his life for them.
When Christians stand up for righteousness and stand against unrighteousness, we do it because we are commanded to. We are to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). God loves the world but hates sin. He doesn’t want anyone to perish (John 3:16), but people will ultimately face judgment because many will reject God. Christians are called to share God’s gift of salvation with the world, so that more and more people will enter into a right relationship with him.
It’s simply not enough to tell others, “God loves you”. The gospel message must be clear. This is the priority and mission of the Christian and if we aren’t doing it, we are failing our calling.
A Different Kind of Gospel
There are all kinds of “Christian” denominations, practices, and even beliefs. This can lead people to become confused about what it means to be a Christian, as there are so many who claim to be followers of Christ. While some differences don’t change the gospel message, other differences are more extreme and can distort the gospel message entirely.
Some progressive movements avoid all discussion surrounding sin and Satan, even to the point that they teach that they don’t exist. The focus is only on the positive, and people are celebrated and affirmed for who they believe they were born to be. Affirmations such as, “You are enough” or “You are worthy” are examples of a new kind of gospel. These kinds of affirmations remove the need for salvation and sanctification because people are taught that they are already enough and worthy just as they are.
Other “Christian” movements have their roots in New Age beliefs and teach that we are all the universal Christ. They believe that Bible translators got it wrong when they assumed that Jesus died to forgive our sins and that he would come again. Instead, Jesus came so that we would awaken our consciousnesses and understand that we are already like Christ; Jesus’ second coming is the enlightenment when we realize that we are the universal Christ.
Christianity, and being a Christian, means so many different things to different people that, for an outsider or someone new to the faith, it might be confusing and hard to understand exactly what Christians believe.
What Defines True Christianity?
True Christianity can only be defined by the Bible. Though there are many ways we can hear from God, the Bible is our only source of truth that we can always count on. True Christianity is established in Scripture, and not simply a selection of passages we want to believe but the Bible in its entirety.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV))
“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9 NIV))
Just as Jesus understood Scripture to be the inspired Word of God, Christians accept the Bible as God’s Word and their authority.
Christianity’s cornerstone belief, found in the Bible, is that all have sinned, and no one can be made right with God except through Jesus. Salvation through Jesus requires that we not only believe in him as our Lord and Savior, but we obediently model our lives after him and live according to God’s commands. This means rejecting what God defines as unrighteous and sinful.
What Is and Isn’t the Christian’s Responsibility
Christians are commanded to spread the gospel, yet they are not called to convict and convince others. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. We must simply share the message and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
Feeling the conviction of one’s sin is accompanied by shame and guilt. But this discomfort is not due to a Christian’s intolerance. The Holy Spirit brings our secret sins to light. Having our flaws and failures exposed is very discomforting! Our human nature resists it.
But this is God’s process. He wants to bring us to a place of true repentance, so that he can bestow his mercy and grace upon us!
As Christians begin to mirror God and his ways, we do become intolerant of sin and Satan. We learn to love righteousness and things that are God-honoring! But we also become more loving of others as we desire to further God’s kingdom.
In a secular worldview, feelings are the ultimate guide, happiness is the ultimate goal, and judging is the ultimate sin.
But in a Biblical worldview, the heart and feelings are known to be deceitful; instead God’s Word is our source of guidance. A right relationship with God is the ultimate goal, and though sin receives judgment, by God’s grace we can escape that judgment if we believe in his plan of salvation.
Christians in an Intolerant World
If you are a Christian reading this post, let me encourage you to continue pressing onward. It is becoming increasingly difficult to live a biblical Christian life, and unfortunately this is even the case within the Church. There is so much pressure to conform, or else be called intolerant or hateful. Christians who don’t conform are now being labelled as “non-affirming Christians”.
It is more important than ever to stand firm on God’s Word and be a light in the darkness, even while churches and pastors begin to bough under the pressure.
The Bible is not just an ancient text that doesn’t apply to us today. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). God and his Word are unchanging and we must continue relying on the Bible as our source of truth.
Remember Jesus’ own words:
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT)
Faithfully Different by Natasha Crain. As mainstream culture grows more hostile to the Bible’s truth, and those that embrace them, you’ll feel mounting pressure to change and even abandon your beliefs. But these challenges also create opportunities to stand strong for Christ and be a light for those hurt by the darkness of our day.
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