Tolerance or Reconciliation? Ephesians 2:14-17

Ephesians 2:14-17 (NIV)
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

We had a guest speaker last week at our church, Dr. Peter Cha. He’s a professor at Trinity International University here in Chicago. His message, One Church, One Household, was one of those that sinks so deep that it’s foundations shaping. You can hear/see it here:

Tolerance or reconciliation? Searching tolerance on Google produces: 1. the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree, with synonyms of acceptance, toleration; open-mindedness, broad-mindedness, forbearance, liberality, liberalism; patience, charity, indulgence, understanding.

Does this describe the “tolerance” movement? Hardly. Actually, the definition of tolerance is the antithesis of the “tolerance” movement. I don’t understand how the “tolerance” movement has sustained traction. On its surface, it’s fatally contradictory – if you’re going to be tolerant, then protesting the actions of other is immediately breaking the tenants of tolerance. It’s impossible to speak out about wrongs under the guise of being tolerant. It’s a smoke screen, a cover, for beating those with differing viewpoints into submission – the very essence of intolerance. The “tolerance” movement is intent on forcing upon us their viewpoint and not tolerating any free discussion or exchange of ideas. They speak of civility while they pay people to protest. Yet, it has traction. It’s real. It’s impacting us. It’s attempting to marginalize us. It is a true indicator to the ways of the world.

Tolerance is a house of cards. However, if tolerance – true tolerance – is really the ultimate goal, we’re missing so much. What does this have to do with the scripture above? 15…His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Christ brought us reconciliation. Searching reconciliation on Google brings up this definition: 1. the restoration of friendly relations; with synonyms of reuniting, reunion, bringing together (again), conciliation, reconcilement, rapprochement, fence-mending; pacification, appeasement, placating, mollification, and 2. resolution, settlement, settling, resolving, mending, remedying.

Dr. Cha spoke a book by Miroslav Volf, “Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation” that exclusion is not a new thing – it’s been going on for quite a loooong time. But the cross has two axis – the vertical gets us to God, and the horizontal gets us to others. Are we really living the horizontal and vertical of the cross?

Tolerance or reconciliation. What’s the difference? Lets use poverty elimination as an example. Most folks would like to see poverty eliminated, right? Well, what is the sword to die on for this issue – how it’s done or that it’s done? Answer is that it’s done. The only way that isn’t the answer is if poverty elimination is a means to a different end than the elimination of poverty. So why do we spend so much energy fighting about how it gets done instead of coming to a point of reconciliation where we join forces and can start to get work done? Why do we waste so much energy fighting tolerating others while we protect our turf against them? Perhaps this explains why the non-profit space is so fragmented.

Why do we worry about the how more than the what? Because we are spending our time tolerating what others are doing and not working reconcile our differences and join together. We are so busy tolerating each other we don’t have the energy or desire to reconcile.

As Christians, we are called to be reconciled to our neighbors, all of our neighbors, through love. We need to work the horizontal axis of The Cross, reaching out both ways into the world around us, firmly rooted in The Cross, firmly rooted in His love, firmly rooted in reconciliation, firmly rooted in the blessings of the vertical axis. It’s time to focus on reconciliation and not be snowflakes about it.

Through reconciliation we can make tolerance irrelevant and live God’s word: Matthew 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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