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Love, tolerance and hope in Jesus

We chat across fences with our Muslim neighbors while cutting the grass. Our Bible-believing children learn at schools alongside Hindu classmates. At the supermarket, we park next to vehicles emblazoned with Wicca symbols and scan headlines on glossy magazines about celebrities embracing the teachings of Scientology and Kabbalah.
Religion is important in America, without a doubt.
But as this country becomes increasingly more aware of other faith groups with ties to many world cultures, Christians in the U.S. find themselves in a new, uncomfortable spot. Where once we unapologetically proclaimed, “Jesus Is The Way!” a major study released recently suggests many believe that perhaps there are many paths to heaven, that Jesus is but one way.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s report, titled “U.S. Religious Landscape Study,” polled 35,000 Americans on issues related to religion, ideology, social and political views.
The findings indicate that as a society we are socially tolerant — and spiritually accepting — of faiths other than our own. Seventy percent of those who claimed affiliation with a particular religion or denomination said they agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Fifty-seven percent of evangelical Christians polled shared that view.
In a fellowship as diverse as Churches of Christ, rest assured that there are those in many of our congregations who would reply in similar fashion. The question of who receives salvation and under what circumstances is likely to extract a variety of responses.
What should our response be to this trend, and specifically to those who embrace faiths that are contradictory to Jesus’ teachings? The answer is found in Scripture.
• Consider teaching on biblical topics that address the issue of how to live faithfully in a non-believing world: Esther and Daniel are wonderful examples of how to be a person of faith in difficult circumstances or hostile settings. The book of 1 Peter addresses living as aliens in a world that does not accept our views. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus spoke patiently to a pluralistic society.
• Be evangelistic: If people are becoming more tolerant, that means they are receptive to other views. Now is not the time to be silent. Be vocal. An inspiring story of how baseball legend Bobby Murcer shared his faith in different contexts can be found here. Make sure Christianity is well represented as those interested ask questions and search for meaning. The simple message of our faith is Jesus’ life, death and resurrection — and it is the most powerful truth of all. It is the hope-filled message of God’s love for all of us.
• Seek understanding: Read current books that discuss cultural relevance, generational differences and the mentality of non-believers. American society is changing, and we must understand what is happening and how that affects sharing the gospel. This month’s review offers a look at why people are “falling away” and how Christians can best project a positive image.
• Pray: Ask for wisdom on how to share Jesus with family members, coworkers, friends and others that you encounter. Lift these people up to the father as you develop relationships that lead to trust and understanding.
It is possible to proclaim Jesus as The Way in today’s politically correct society. Christians can be tolerant, loving and relevant without accepting all religions as equal. The gospel is eternal, but as American culture changes so must our means of taking that saving message to those around us.

  • Feedback
    Tolerance is something we are constantly being told we need here in the UK. Particularly, non-muslims are to be tolerant of the Islamic religion whist the same demands are not required of them. True, mst of us have no problem with Muslims in general, it is the religion we are opposed too. But our government recently admitted that they are suportive of
    July, 25 2008

    I agree with Charlie Robinson’s comment, but would also add in that even though our society is becoming more tolerant, the one thing they will not tolerate is perceived exclusivity. This should not deter us from proclaiming Jesus as The Way, but we should be prepared for hostile responses.
    July, 25 2008

    I agree with the thoughts in the editorial “Love, tolerance, and hope in Jesus.” As believers in the cross of Jesus Christ and all it stands for, this is where we cannot compromise.
    However, I fear that in the past the Christian community has “stood firm on this truth” in less than loving ways. If we are to impact our secular culture, we need to do more than “proclaim the truth of Jesus as the Way.” We need to live our lives in loving sacrifice, as Jesus Himself did, not only for the benefit of our fellow church members but also for the world – even and most especially the unbelieving world. If the world does not SEE the reality of Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy in us, they have no reason to HEAR the truth of what we say.
    Charlie Robinson, Columbia, MD
    July, 24 2008

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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