I’d be in good company if you did. It’s not that I’m aiming to be marked as one, but due to my unwavering beliefs, I’d be classified as one. A bigot, according to www.dictionary.com is a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion. According to the world, since I’m pro-traditional marriage, pro-life or simply pro-Bible, I must be a bigot. Do you know who else was? Paul. That’s right Paul from the BIBLE! Paul was a bigot.
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. – Gal. 1:6-9
Paul had previously entered the area of Galatia and preached Christ to them. Some time afterward, he found out that they had begun to stray from what he preached. He is shocked to find this out and says that anyone who preaches any other gospel should be cursed! Can you believe it? He actually said it twice! It would seem to me that Paul had a “zero tolerance policy” when it came to any other gospel. By today’s standards, he would be accused of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and intolerance. Yet people want us to follow the Bible? I think the people who want us Christians to do so, haven’t read their Bible.
Paul also says in 3:1 –
Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. – NLT
Here he pretty much calls them stupid for believing something else other than what he taught them. In fact, the entire letter to the Galatians is a rebuke of sorts! Paul also realizes that he runs the risk of them turning on him for saying these things. Look what he says in verse 16, “Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?” He realizes that his statements may not be met with open arms, but that didn’t stop him. He knew what he was called to do and say despite the consequences.
Paul had no respect for anyone who preached another gospel. If there are things that are going on in this world that is contrary to what we believe to be right, then we don’t have to tolerate those things. We don’t have to have respect to what we believe to be sin. Want to know something else about Paul? Did you know that he was not pro-choice?
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. – 1 Cor. 6:18-20 NLT
This definitely spits in the face of many Christians. You see, the world (and many well-meaning Christians) don’t understand something: if you call yourself a Christian, you don’t get to pick and choose what you believe. I know that’s a strong statement, so I’ll say it again. If Jesus is your Lord, which is what makes you a Christian, then you don’t get to pick what you belive and what you don’t. What Paul instructed Christians to do then is applicable to us now. We don’t get to say that his instructions, or the other writers of the Bible for that matter, are outdated. Or I should say, we don’t get to pick what is outdated and what is not, which is what the world and many Christians are doing.
The world wants to pick through the Bible and throw scriptures at us that they think we need to follow, all the mean while ignoring the ones that contradict and rebuke the very way they live their lives. Then Christians, in a misguided attempt to love others, begin to become complacent and cave in on what they are supposed to stand up for. We weren’t called to become friends with the world. We were called to show them the way. In fact, it should be no surprise that the world doesn’t like us.
- Matthew 24:9 – Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. – KJV
- Luke 6:22 – Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. – KJV
- John 15:18-19 – If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. – KJV
Those statements were all made by Jesus. The very person the world wants us to emulate. Unfortunately the world has a skewed view as to who Jesus was. They have made him into someone who accepts their ways. Does he love them? He sure does, but he doesn’t love their ways. They mistake love for acceptance and tolerance. Here are a few other things Jesus said:
- John 3:35-36 – The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment. – NLT
- John 12:44-45 – Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. – KJV
- John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Those sound like statements that contain no wiggle room. No ifs, ands or buts. Sounds to me like Jesus was pretty closed-minded on the topic of eternal life. Sounds to me like Jesus had no tolerance for another opinion, belief or creed. Uh, oh. Sounds like Jesus fit the description of a bigot.
But here’s the flip side:
Does that give us a license to treat people with disdain, hatred,mockery and discrimination? God forbid! It’s just the opposite. We should show love and compassion on those we disagree with. However, people think that love and tolerance go hand in hand. They are wrong. You can love someone without tolerating their lifestyle or beliefs. It’s the concept of “love the sinner, hate the sin” which is not in scripture, but still a noble concept.
Where we (as Christians) have utterly gone wrong, is that we’ve stood for what we believe without doing it in love. We’ve gone after the outward actions all the mean while neglecting the heart. See, if we want to change how people live, we must change the heart. Outward actions are a fruit of an inward belief. No amount of protesting and changing of laws are going to change how people act. Change the heart and you change the outward actions.
What sucks is that many Christians today would get rebuked from the very one they call Lord. That’s right, Jesus would rebuke many of us just like he did then. I call to your remembrance Matthew 23:25-27 KJV:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
This is what Jesus said to the very people who claimed to love God and his commands. The people who claimed to be the most religious. Yet this is exactly what we demand of the world today. We want them to clean up their act, but we leave their heart untouched.
The same God we claim is intolerant to sin, the same God we claim is not pleased with our society’s ways, the same God we claim will bring judgement upon this nation (I for one don’t believe that He will), is the same God who sent His only Son to die for them. Jesus became sin for us. Jesus became sin for them too…maybe they just don’t know it yet. And if we continue to present Him like we are, they never will.
It doesn’t mean that we ignore the scriptures I listed above. But maybe there’s one thing you didn’t notice. The letters in the New Testament were written to CHRISTIANS! Those letters, in which the scriptures were taken from, were written AFTER those people in Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, etc., received Jesus. They were written AFTER they both heard and believed the gospel.
We are trying to shove scripture down the throat of those who have not believed on Jesus. We are trying to shove scriptures down the throats of those who don’t have a heart towards God. It’s like I said before, we are trying change symptoms instead of treating the cause. Maybe it’s time we start working the soil before we attempt to plant seeds. Of course that may mean we get our hands dirty. We sure don’t like that sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. Just because they aren’t Christians doesn’t mean those scriptures aren’t applicable to them. They are. God’s word is true regardless of one’s personal beliefs. However, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s frustrating and eventually you’ll give up.
Jesus said in Matthew 23:26 – First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. Change the heart first and the actions will follow. Jesus never preached “turn or burn”. Let’s not either. They are already hurting inside. Let’s not make it worse.
We may need to tweak our approach, but it doesn’t mean we give up. I still plan on standing up for what I believe is right despite the consequences. I know others will as well…on both sides.
There is a quote that I’ve found to be true, especially during my time in youth ministry: “People don’t care how much you know if they don’t know how much you care.” In this case, the world doesn’t care what we know, because it doesn’t yet know how much we care. More importantly, it doesn’t yet know how much He cares.