Be tolerant with one another and forgiving, if any of you has cause for complaint: you must forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:13
“Tolerance is being able to accept things that you wish were different.” So says Linda Kavelin Popov in “The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves.”
“When you practice tolerance, you don’t expect others to think, look or act just like you. You accept differences,” she wrote.
Political division continues. Christian churches like mine are in strife over what Jesus would do today. Families also have taken the heat in this time. Cousins and siblings, parents and children disagree, often forcefully. We have been kept apart due to the pandemic. Can we practice tolerance as we come back together? Or are we willing to remove people from our lives because we disagree with them?
As a contemplative, empowered (charismatic) evangelical practicing Christian mindfulness, I often struggle with the mighty gap between what I consider evangelical and how others define it. I’ve sat in the evangelical soup long enough to know how it looks and tastes. Many evangelicals are harsh and judgmental. Some white evangelicals have no idea that they benefit from systemic racism. Others actually are racist. They think people like me tolerate sin and are not loyal to God.
I think we’ve been told in no uncertain terms to “Judge not, lest you be judged.” And to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
People who lack tolerance have trouble loving, period. They tend to be angry and unhappy a lot. I’m writing this, aware that I also am being judgmental. God loves even the most intolerant people, and I must follow his lead. That’s actually what tolerance is all about.
How can Christian mindfulness help us to develop tolerance? It makes us aware in the present moment and in the presence of God. It helps us to see that groups of people are persons who God loves. It helps us to be humble enough to understand that we may not be the ultimate authority on what God wants. It allows us, first and foremost, to have respect for the free choice of our family members and to love them without prejudice.
Today let’s try to be aware of our own intolerance. Let’s hold it up to God, asking for forgiveness and for the Holy Spirit to lead us to loving behavior.