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Day 32: Love and Tolerance

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Anyone who is not against us is for us. Mark 9:40

I wanted to scream, “Shut up you idiots! You’re giving Christians a bad name!”

It was spring break on South Beach and there were thong bikinis of all sizes everywhere. Bass music was pumping from dozens of speakers and the average age was decades younger than me. Nothing like the beaches in Naples!

Amy brought her volleyball and we decided to head to the sand courts. In the distance, I heard a megaphone and saw two people with huge black signs with white writing mounted on poles and latched into their belts. I couldn’t understand what they were saying until we got closer. And then I knew…

“The Kingdom of God is at hand. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. You care about your bodies but what about your souls? Do you want them to burn in hell for eternity?!”

I cringed.

Do they really think anyone is listening? Are they really turning hearts to God or are they turning people off? Sunbathers are mocking them. Shoeing them away. They soldier on.

“I can’t believe people do that. It’s like bad marketing for Christianity. It’s what gives Christians a bad name,” I said to Jim. I felt a pang in my stomach and wanted to be sure to disassociate from anyone with that type of conversion strategy.

Yet in Mark 9: 39-41 this is exactly how the disciples felt when they came to Jesus and saw someone using Jesus name to cast out demons. They told him to STOP it! To which Jesus replied:

“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.

He was saying be loving. Be tolerant. Realize we are all on the same team. If they are using my name and helping others, allow it. Live and let live.

Jesus was hard on the judgers. He spoke out against those who were intolerant.  We see that clearly in Matthew 23: 1-35. That entire passage is devoted to Jesus’ disgust with the religious leaders and their hypocrisy.

Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matt 23: 28

As we packed up our things at the end of the day I realize I was burned. Yes, my legs were as red as a lobster but more than that I was spiritually burned. I felt convicted for having judged them so harshly. Not just in my heart but also in my words. I had made fun of them in front of my husband and my daughters. We had re-enacted the scene with jest. Yet, who did I impact that day as I sat quietly in my beach chair reading?

No one.

Even though the fervour with which they spoke of the damnation of God was ‘not my style’ I guarantee others were talking about them as they left the beach that day too. Maybe their tactic opened the doors to some conversations with loved ones who were able to share the message of Jesus in a kinder, softer, more loving way. Maybe the shock factor woke up some who were dead inside and caused them to take another look at their lives. Maybe someone on the beach had prayed for a ‘sign’ from God that day…and they got it. A LITERAL SIGN!

Who is to say?

So today I am reminded not to be the judge. God has a place for everyone at His table who is For Him. He sees the heart. Love and tolerance is our code. Let that be the attitude we show the world.

Day 32 Lenten Love Prayer:

Forgive me God for being so quick to judge, not just in my heart but in my words and attitudes. What a prideful person I can be! Help me to love those who love you and are trying their best to impact the world. Help me to allow people the space to exhibit their faith in the way that seems right to them without criticizing or correcting. You speak to the hearts of everyone and you can use anything and anyone as a way to get your message to those who are open and seeking. Let me not think that my way is the only way. Let me remember that I only know a little bit and what I do know is that Love is the way. Thank you for showing me my own hypocrisy and help me to recognize it more quickly next time. Soften my heart towards all of Your children and let me be one who is willing to see that there is room for everyone to play in the sandbox together.

Day 32 Scripture:

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:3