One of the flags that new churches wave right now is that of tolerance. We love to tolerate other people’s beliefs and perspectives. We find value in everyone and where they are coming from. I wrote a few posts on my ideas of seeing everyone’s perspective as truth (read them before you assume.) There ends up being one major flaw in most people’s approach to this kind of tolerance.
Let’s say there is a group of us in a room and one person ends up being really rude and distasteful to someone else because of what they believe. This group of people however has a very strong tolerance policy. People are allowed to question without penalty, and everyone’s perspective has equal opportunity to be known and join in the conversation. However, there is one person who just doesn’t get it. He rags on someone telling them their ideas are too liberal and that their beliefs are unfounded. He has absolutely no tolerance for the people around him and their opinions.
Usually what ends up happening is that we drive people like that out. There is no place for those that are intolerant towards others. We shut them down, make them feel out of place and mostly talk about them behind their backs in disbelief. We end up disliking them quite a bit and are in awe at how rude to everyone they are. We have very little tolerance for those that are intolerant.
It fascinates me to watch a group of people be transformed from their core beliefs by one person who doesn’t believe it. One intolerant human being has the capacity to make a room full of people who claim tolerance extremely intolerant. This is unfortunate. The key to tolerance is not tolerating those with crazy beliefs and wild ideas but to tolerate those who refuse to play by your rules. Tolerance is at its strongest when facing intolerant behaviour. Tolerance is defeated when we are intolerant to those that are intolerant.
This is a true test of this kind of characteristic I believe. Are we as people able to uphold our positive beliefs of tolerance in the face of intolerance? Can we tolerate intolerance? This is I think the true proof of a community of people who truly want to embrace and love the other. I hope we can do it. I truly hope we can learn to accept those that refuse to accept our rules of acceptance.