This is the third message in our series “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?” Other messages in the series include “It’s Not My Gift” and “Let Go, Let God.”
I used to go to a Christian camp every summer when I was a kid. Almost every year I would be encouraged to “let Jesus into my heart.” I was already a Christian, so this invitation confused me. I know others who always felt pressured and guilty that maybe they sent the invitation to the wrong place or forgot the stamp? Maybe Jesus only visited their heart last year, and this year they hope he chooses to stay. It’s a confusing invitation: letting Jesus into your heart.
What’s that even mean, really? Is it a one-time invitation, and then we’re set for life? Or is it a habitual invitation that we need to keep on issueing so he doesn’t leave?
I’ve been thinking about tolerance quite a bit over the last few weeks. Last week I attempted to provide a clear definition of What Tolerance Is (and Isn’t). My hope was to simply clarify what tolerance is without getting into what it looks like for the Christian to be tolerant in an unChristian world. I believe tolerance is a good thing and we need more of it.
In a tolerant world, would Christians still evangelize and send missionaries? Is evangelism inherently intolerant?
Some people believe evangelism is inherently anti-tolerant. Here are a few reasons I answer, “No, evangelism is not inherently intolerant.”
One of the things that is so great about America is our diversity. Like the states who form the United States of America, the American people have different cultural backgrounds but come together united. That can cause some problems, because we so easily slip into a mentality that says, “Different = Wrong.” How do we learn to get along and respect others who are so different from us?
Tolerance… it’s practically the religion of today. Unfortunately, what often gets called “tolerance” is anything but. It’s become a word that gets thrown around but never defined.
What Tolerance Is Not
Tolerance doesn’t overlook differences. It’s not tolerant to tell people, “You think you disagree, but you really don’t.” Telling Christians and Muslims and Buddhists they all believe the same thing and worship the same God isn’t tolerance, it’s disrespecting their religious beliefs.
When tolerance becomes intolerant of differences, we are not practicing tolerance… we’re practicing uniformity. Doing that is like cutting down all the trees so they get the same amount of sunlight.
When I was interviewing for my current position as a youth pastor someone asked me, “What do you think is the greatest challenge facing teenagers today?”
It’s a great question. I remember giving some answer about postmodernism and the challenge of living in a relativistic culture. Blah blah blah. I’m sure my answer was brilliant… but let me take another crack at it.
This is the second message in our series “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?” Last week’s cliche was “Let Go, Let God.”
Imagine for a moment that all the church leaders came to you for advice, seeking your vast wisdom on the question, “What should the church be doing in the world?” What would you say?
You’d probably encourage the church to talk about God, to pray for people, to help the needy. What else would be on your list… and honestly ask yourself, “Am I doing those things?”
It’s so much easier (and comfortable!) to tell others what they’re supposed to be doing. When it’s our turn to be the doer… it becomes far more risky. When it’s our turn to start evangelizing or sacrificing our time and our stuff in order to serve those in need, that’s when we’re tempted to cry out, “That’s not my gift!” Too often, that’s nothing phrase is an excuse to avoid doing something risky and difficult.
I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but cliches make me as sick as a dog! People who use them need to wake up and smell the coffee. I don’t mean to open a can of worms, but we really need to think about all these cliches.
Cliches might communicate something true, but most of the time they’ve either lost their meaning or they’re just plain confusing. Sometimes we need to stop and ask the question, “Is this even true?” This is the first week “Think About IT!” taking a second look at Christian cliches.