Summary: What tolerance means, and also what it does not mean
JESUS AND TOLERANCE
Will Rogers was known for his laughter, but he also knew how to weep. One day he was entertaining at a hospital in Los Angeles that specialized in rehabilitating polio victims and people with other extreme physical handicaps. Of course, Rogers had everybody laughing, even patients in really bad condition; but then he suddenly left the platform and went to the rest room. One of the other entertainers followed him to give him a towel; and when he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning against the wall, sobbing like a child. He closed the door, and in a few minutes, Rogers appeared back on the platform, a smile on his face and as jovial as before.
Today we are continuing in our series Knowing Jesus. Someone once said, if you want to learn what a person is really like, ask three questions: What makes him laugh? What makes him weep? What makes him angry?
Last week we talked about what made Jesus weep. Today I want to talk about what makes Jesus angry. The kind of anger that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people. The kind of anger that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city.
John 2:13-19 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me." 18 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
Why was Jesus angry? In itself, there was nothing wrong with the sale of cattle, sheep and doves. These animals were sold as part of the sacrificial system given by God through Moses to the nation of Israel. People who lived a great distance from Israel would take their sacrifices and offerings and convert them to money which was easier to carry. When they arrived in Jerusalem they would use the money to buy sacrifices and offerings to present at the temple. The only currency which was accepted was the temple shekel. Money changers converted the foreign currencies from around the Roman Empire into the shekel. It was all designed to help people. So what was it that Jesus objected to?
Today I want to talk about a word that we hear spoken all the time – tolerance.
1. What Tolerance Is
Tolerance is the understanding that all people are created in the image of God and therefore have value, worth and dignity. Tolerance begins by recognizing that, although we may disagree on worldview or how we see things, that we treat each other with grace and dignity.
Tolerance does not mean that there is no such thing as absolute truth. It does not mean that we have to accept every point of view as equal. It does not mean that we should never judge people. How many times have you heard somebody say that you should not judge people? If you’re a Christian somebody has certainly said it to you – you ought not to judge.
When somebody says to you that you ought not judge you should respond by saying, why are you judging me for judging? It’s a judgment. Notice that “Don’t judge,” is a self defeating statement.
What’s a self defeating statement? A self defeating statement is like saying I can’t speak a word in English. Or, there are no sentences in English longer than three words. Or my brother is an only child. Or everything I say is a lie. (Some of you will get that tomorrow!) Relativism is self-defeating. When people say you ought not judge, they’re making a judgment. When people say there are no absolutes. You should ask them, are you absolutely sure? When people say, There is no truth, you ought to ask them, is that true? Is it true that there is no truth? As soon as you say there is no truth you are saying that what you have just said is not true, so you are actually saying that there is truth. That is because the statement is self defeating. It doesn’t meet its own standard. You ought not to make judgments is actually a judgment.