Friday, 5 June 2009

church all over the place... coming out of the church ghetto... acceptance and tolerance

May 28, 2009

Brought homemade raisin bread to coffee time. Hubby came this time, too. At lunch time, Colin and Pastor Colin (from the "church in the park" group) came for "Sunday soup" (or should I say, Wednesday Soup!). We all had really good conversation - total emphasis on the Lord! It is so awesome when God's children get together!

After that a dear sister phoned and we had a nice long chat, and her hubby even joined in on speakerphone after a bit. And then another sister phoned. I love this family of God!

Oh, and a friend sent me a devotional thing about "acceptance" and "tolerance" ... which, it is true, a lot of Christians tend to think of as "dirty words" in our world today. Anyway, Dorothy Valcarcel, wrote:

"One of the interesting processes that affects the conclusions we come to is what is called 'diagnostic bias.' I call this phenomenon, jumping to conclusions based on previous information that has filled our minds or become part of our life experiences... Here's what I found. In nearly every Christian book of quotes or prayers and poems, anytime the word 'tolerance' or 'acceptance' was used - it was done so in a very negative way... Sadly, we leave no room for one who doesn't agree with us 100% of the time to feel as though they can even be comfortable in our presence, when we have such limited vision....

Here's the point we need to remember when thinking about the words - acceptance and tolerance. Naomi's acceptance of her [Moabite/pagan] daughters-in-law didn't diminish her beliefs or standards. Her tolerance, or as the dictionary defines this word, her respect and recognition of the behavior and beliefs of her foreign daughters-in-law didn't lessen her consecration to God. Instead, by opening her heart and opening her mind, through respectful kindness, she gave these Moabite girls a glimpse into the heart of a [good, kind] God.... Naomi's acceptance of these girls didn't lower her standards of purity and grace. Instead, her strength in accepting these girls led them on a higher path to the God of heaven and earth....

... I thought of times in my own life when I've allowed a 'diagnostic bias'to keep me locked within the walls of seclusion where I avoided being challenged by the need to stretch my heart, to open my arms wide and to provide a harbor of acceptance where searchers could come for safety.

Let's ask God everyday how we can use His heavenly awareness to help us accept and tolerate what we don't understand before we push others away with our holier-than-thou attitude which totally misrepresents the love of the God of heaven and earth who so generously sent His only begotten Son that ALL might be redeemed."

I think that is really powerful. And I think it is something the church, as we've often known it, needs to really think about. It seems to me that more and more we've been pulling ourselves into a sort of "Christian ghetto" and, while we say we want people to come to know the Lord, we want them to come into our buildings, and follow our ways of doing things, on our terms, as we confuse our "culture" that has developed "in the church" with what Christianity really is. hmmm....

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