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Tolerance and Honesty

tolerance and honesty

tolerance and honesty

Jesus never asked us to worship him, but he persistently asked us as his disciples to follow him.

A trap Christians often make is mistaking discipleship for our preferred forms of worship or chest-thumping arguments about the right way to go about it.  Since the early church our quarrels over worship styles and creedal statements about theology have resulted in hurtful, even violent divisions within the church.

There is no passage in which Jesus so directly teaches the duty of tolerance as our gospel passage this week [Luke 9:51-62].

Following Jesus will always mean pursuing unity whilst honouring diversity. This demands tolerance and patience and above everything else, true Christian love.

The kingdom of God is far bigger and richer than the institutional church, no matter how good we might think the church is.

Too often, we become precious about particular aspects of Jesus’ teaching or biblical theology, which can lead us to reject or withdraw from those who may disagree with our views.

Such pettiness is contrary to Jesus’ agenda.  Following Jesus isn’t about head thoughts – it’s all about hearts. If we have given our hearts to Jesus, then we will follow wherever he may lead us, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable.

Jesus commands us to love our enemies, and as we follow, our actions become our creedal statement. Jesus commands us to visit the sick, and as we follow, our creedal statement is in our actions, not our words. The Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus showing us by example where he wants us to go. And Jesus has always gone before us. We might find excuses to delay our wholehearted commitment to following Jesus, but they are just that – excuses.

 

Luke 9:51-62 [NRSV]    Jesus Sets His Face to Jerusalem

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’[a] 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then[b] they went on to another village.

 

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58 And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59 To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 60 But Jesus[c] said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ 61 Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ 62 Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

 

Galatians 5:1, 13-25 [NRSV] Works of the Flesh, Fruit of the Spirit

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;[a] only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,[b] but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[c] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

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