“If you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much!” (Luke 6:33)
Tolerance is not enough.
Culture has spat in our eye for a long while, accusing Christians of intolerance and bigotry. At times, sadly, the accusations have been true and fair.
The secular message has declared: “Everyone should be entitled to live and act as they like, without judgment.” Unfortunately, this core cultural value (birthed from the situation ethics of Joseph Fletcher in the 1960s) divides us just as much as intolerance and bigotry. It demands my silence and requires that I let you make self-destructive choices without interference. It insists that I approve whatever lifestyle you prefer. We must tolerate everything except intolerance. It’s a circular mess.
Jesus cut straight past this limited and harmful paradigm. Nobody would accuse Him of intolerance. He treated women, children, slaves, the poor, and the afflicted far better than anyone else in His day. He showed supreme compassion, even while He called them to a new way of living; the Kingdom of God way of living.
The issue was neither tolerance nor intolerance, with Jesus. Instead, He modeled a better and higher way. Do good to those who do not do good to you!
He will not let us sit satisfied with the passivity of tolerance. Jesus won’t approve of His followers simply watching the world self-destruct. Disengagement is not an option. The passivity of tolerance has no place in the Kingdom.
Instead, Jesus calls us to live differently. He paints a contrasting picture. Do good to those who do not do good to you. Don’t avoid them. Don’t merely tolerate them. Actively reach out to them. Do good to them and for them.
This message permeates so much of what Jesus taught. A Samaritan reaches out across hard and fast ethnic lines to help and heal someone (Luke 10:25-37). A father throws a party for a son who broke up the family inheritance (Luke 15:11-32). On the Cross itself, Jesus blesses those who revile Him (Luke 23:34).
Do good to those who do not do good to you.
Conflict comes regularly to us all. Hurt feelings. Harsh words. Thoughtless or selfish actions. Criticism. Broken relationships. Today’s Jesus Question invites us to respond differently; not to withdraw but to do good instead; not to justify our position but to honor the other person; not to defend ourselves but to lift others up.
It’s mind-boggling to consider but life-changing to practice. Marriages, families, and workplaces would never be the same.
May Christ grant us the capacity to extend such grace today. Tolerance is not enough.