One of the critiques about Christianity is that it’s intolerant. Jesus tells us in the Bible that the only way to God the Father is through him (John 14:6), meaning all the other ways people use to try to get to God are wrong. Thus every other religion is wrong and those in the Christian faith who believe there are other ways to God beyond Jesus also are wrong.
I’m writing today to tell you that I am an intolerant Christian and proud of it. And if that statement hasn’t turned you off yet let me explain why.
What most people – even some Christians – fail to realize when comparing Christianity to all the other faiths great and small is that Christianity differs from every one of them in one spectacular way! Every other faith aside from Christianity is what we call a “Works-Based” religion. In other words, the theology of those religions teach that one must work their way to salvation and their ultimate eternity is determined based upon if and only if they have done enough work during their lifetime as defined by that religion. In most of those religions you never really know how much work that is so at the end of your life your salvation is anything but guaranteed. You could be going to heaven. You could be going to purgatory. You could be going to hell. You might be reincarnated in a higher caste, then again you may not. At the end of the day there is no hope for you because there is no promise from your god. So you live your life in uncertainty, working without ever knowing if it even matters.
Christianity, on the other hand, is a “Grace-Based” religion, meaning salvation is a free gift given to you by God because He understands that there is no amount of work you could possibly do to be worthy of heaven so God has arranged a way for you to have it for free because He loves you so much.
Do you see the difference between the two systems? One is based on you and what you can do. The other is based on God’s love and has nothing to do with you other than you are the object of God’s love.
So yes, I am intolerant of other religions because they hold people hostage and actually keep them from God! I am intolerant of a religion that is based on me not being worthy and spending my entire life trying to prove to God I’m good enough for Him. I am intolerant of any religion that takes the focus off of God and places the focus on men. And I am intolerant of any religion that believes that man could possibly be good enough on their own to meet the holiness standards of God. Guilty as charged.
I know a number of people who want Christian leaders to reach out to other faiths to find common ground and harmony. This is a difficult thing for a disciple of Jesus. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not difficult for us to love these other people – we do because they are God’s children, too. But there is no common ground to be had with these other religions.
You don’t see Jesus having interfaith meetings with the local pagans in the Decapolis to find common ground when it comes to faith. What you see is Jesus being very clear that the gate is narrow and that belief in him as the son of God is the only way to heaven.
This can be very difficult in today’s society where tolerance and moral relativism is the new state religion and those who hold to orthodox Christian doctrine are demonized as intolerant or worse. So let me dig this hole a little deeper and share why I think it’s important to draw a line in the sand with Jesus.
Jesus died for the sins of the world. What that means is that individual judgment is no longer about your sin life. Instead Jesus will judge you based on one thing: did you believe or did you not believe? If you believed you are saved and if you did not believe you chose not to be saved – it was your decision because the gift is offered to everyone, it’s free, but you declined the offer.
So if judgment is not about sin why is the church so fixated with sin? As a believer I am so grateful to God for his Son paying the price for my transgression that I want to honor God by not sinning and living as holy a life as I can – not to earn anything from God but to honor and glorify Him. Like God I don’t like sin because I think it is dishonoring to Him the same way I wouldn’t like someone making fun of you behind your back because it’s dishonoring to you. So as a church leader I am concerned about a nation that doesn’t recognize God or honor Him.
But what I really worry about is not your sin it’s your choice.
Specifically I worry about three types of people.
First, I worry about those who completely reject God. Simply put they know not what they do! Their ignorance is only surpassed by their pride, thinking their intellect is beyond the need for God. I pray daily that my friends who fall into this category have a Holy Spirit experience and can be transformed.
Second, I worry about people following false religions. Billions have been blinded to follow religions that will not lead them to God but instead push them farther away. There are specific issues with each flavor of religion outside of Christianity that could be discussed, but suffice it to say that I believe Satan has done massive damage to people who legitimately are searching for God the Father but who were seduced by false prophets and religious systems.
Third, I worry about my friends who believe they are following Jesus who in fact don’t know Him. The relationship Jesus describes is one where if we love Him we will do what He commands. I would argue that the majority of those who claim Christianity as their faith actually are not practicing that faith at all and have no daily relationship with Jesus. According to Matthew 7:21-23 that kind of relationship is going to end badly.
It’s hard to be intolerant. People mistake our reasons and ascribe motives to us that don’t exist. Yet, I remind people who at the end of the day I will not be standing before any of these critics; I’ll be standing before Jesus Christ to whom I must give an account. And so will you!
So how should an intolerant Christian like me live our lives? Certainly not how I see many of my fellow intolerant Christians doing it! We’re not to throw stones, make accusations, and generally be disagreeable. Our job is to love our neighbor – period. Jesus told us that they would know we are his disciples by the way we love one another.
I don’t have to agree with someone to love them or treat them with love. I can stick to my strong beliefs about Jesus without being offensive to a person of another faith or someone of no faith at all because I am secure enough in what I believe that what they believe doesn’t affect my relationship with Jesus.
So I will continue to be intolerant of things Jesus tells me I am not to tolerate. And I will do so in truth and love so that people will truly know that I am a disciple of Jesus.