Acceptance does not equal tolerance

God loves the world. We know that. The world is filled with sinners. Ergo, God must love sin. This is the kind of logic that people try and use to prove that Christians need to be more tolerant. The problem is that one small detail is missing from their formula — logic.

We know from Scripture (John 3:16) that God indeed loves the world. However, we also know from Scripture (Isaiah 6:1 -7) that God is Holy and cannot abide sin in His presence (nor can a sinner survive the encounter). But in their desperation to dismiss the rightful claims of Christianity many try to twist the facts to fit their preconceived notions.

For example, when a Christian interacts with an individual who is pro-choice the normal tendency is to end up arguing over whether abortion is murder, or when life actually begins. More often than not this ends up being a big and heated debate that is at best counterproductive. While the sin of abortion is murder there is an underlying cause. The underlying cause is the rejection of the teaching of Scripture regarding the image of God in man. When a person decides to have an abortion they are in essence defying God by destroying His most precious creation.

So how does this deal with acceptance and tolerance? The answer is found again in Scripture. In numerous passages we see Jesus, Paul and Peter teaching that God desires man to be reconciled to Him. God is willing to accept the vilest of sinners, but no matter how we try to justify it God will NEVER tolerate our sin.

So, am I splitting hairs? Am I playing the age old semantics game? I don’t think so. I truly believe that there is a legitimate distinction to be made. It is not that God loves the sinner and hates the sin. It is that those who come to God through Christ are made free of sin and clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. They become, “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 KJV).

The question then is how do we emulate God in this? How do we accept people and lead them to Jesus to become accepted by God without tolerating their sin? I believe we do it the same way that God does. We love them despite their condition and because of Jesus. What do you think?

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