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ONE MAN'S
PERSPECTIVE

   
A WORD OF COMFORT BEFORE YOU PROCEED: There is nothing we can do to separate us from God's love. ...Excerpted from Romans 8:39
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 THEOLOGY ASKEW? 

  A PERSPECTIVE FROM JOHN MICKELSON
 
Signs of the times? The Cost of Tolerance: Are We Overlooking Something Far More Effective abd Meaningful?
Tolerance as a social philosophy: It's not as noble a perspective as we are led to casually regard it. While it may be preferable to active bigotry or egregious prejudice, it bears a passive indifference that ultimately helps no one. Why not, instead, pursue compassion?

While attempting, once again, to clean out part of my garage, I stumbled upon a tract that discussed three types of love. To my surprise, it was not about the standard trio of agape, phileo and eros — three dramatically different kinds of love — but three that tend to get easily confused in today's culture: if-only, because-of and inspite-of love.

Only one will last. It certainly isn't the first, "if-only" love because it is conditional, and true love is unconditional. It states "I would love you if only you would or you were...."
    And "because-of" love is vulnerable to erosion due to change. In early romances, it is not uncommon for people to say, "I love you 'because of' (a) the way you make me tingle at the thought of you; (b) the way you make me laugh; (c) the way you look excites me; (d) the way you (almost anything could go here)."
    The third, however, successfully incorporates God's quality of being able to hate the sin while yet loving the sinner. "in-spite-of" love acknowledges a shortcoming or two or three but loves the person anyway. It is the type of love that can't be undone by circumstance, time or any other agent: it is unconditional.

Just as something critical is missing in the types of love other than the "in-spite-of" form of love, something also is missing in tolerance, despite its seeming harmless qualities.

Tolerance might seem, at first blush, to be a noble temperance. But examine at its meaning more closely. It is akin to saying, "He can do that to himself because it doesn't bother me. It's okay because I don't really care." At its best, tolerance is utterly passive, like a sin of omission. But while more of American culture endorses, if not embraces, tolerance as a solution, its impact is far more debilitating than it is constructive.

So how does this lead me to a treatise on the advantage of compassion over tolerance? Because compassion involves an aspect of the "inspite-of" love which tolerance fundamentally lacks. Compassion allows for God's righteousness to be acknowledged, e.g., "in spite of your gluttony or sexual sin or pattern of deceit" without denying His unconditional commitment to us: "... I nevertheless love you."

Tolerance passively condones all wrong-doing and violation of principle for fear that it looks judgemental, prejudicial and rejectful of the person who is "just different."

This gets to the heart of a vital quality of God which He calls us to embrace despite our fundamental inability to do apart from Him: to embrace His Love and His Rightehousness by actively loving the Sinner while nevertheless hating the Sin.

To be able to do so is inescapably beautiful in its supernatural deliverance and freeing in its ability to bring us to the realm of grace — and to apply it to others much like God bestows it upon us.

 

 

But Ne'er Forget: In spite of it all ...
Our nature is to one-up by judging. The solution is not to be indifferent. And whiile tolerance is better than indifference, over time that small difference may appear insignificant. The active, spirit-empowered act of compassion has, by its very God-loving and -derived nature, the capacity to heal. That is what we should strive for — or, by His power, surrender to.
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