“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
~Matthew 12:34b (NRSV)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
~Matthew 7:21 (NRSV)
The will of our Father in heaven is for us to love others just as we seek to be loved (Matthew 7:12). That is, and always will be, Christianity’s principal means and end.
When all the liquid of religious distraction is boiled away, and we are left with the precious sediment of our love-proven faith, the ore that matters most is the gold of forbearance for our fellows—beyond differentiating doctrine, polarisation of opinion, and religious right and wrong.
There is a test and an underpinning protocol required of the true believer—for there are many false ones, who virulently go against God’s will—and that is the overriding mandate for tolerance; love speaking a language all its own, beyond any sense of competition; high above carnal predilection.
The indifference of loveless ‘faith’ is detected most often by debates and fighting. It should seem obvious; this goes against the gospel imperative, though many who are self-anointed continue to disagree.
Why There Can Be No Fighting
Journeying back to our childhoods, our minds are quickly refreshed; think of the innocently-borne play-fight that started jovially and ended in tears. For every successful play-fight there were always a few that ended badly.
We find almost identical scenarios at the attempt of genial debate—simply putting our views forward—views that are so unique we couldn’t agree with the next person, let alone adequately ‘represent’ God.
Quickly someone emerges who doesn’t know how to fight/debate appropriately, or isn’t in the appropriate mood, and just as suddenly what started as an edifying and stimulating venture for truth finishes in frustration and offence.
Just like the play-fight many debates finish off-track and derailed.
Debating and fighting seem at the outset as appropriate; to discharge one’s ‘responsibility’ of response. But it so often turns out as a poisoned chalice, especially as we discover afresh the tenuous challenge of communication that doesn’t cater for what hearts are really saying. We hear the words and don’t listen to the heart behind them.
Love – The Only Sensible Modus Operandi
There is a reason why love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Taken beyond human sense, love tolerates even the intolerable, not so much to the point of injustice or unfairness, because crudeness is hardly the point, but because it knows it’s the only universal language for survival.
Love finds a better way for defeating evil. It commends it, with grace, to God. And God is known to judge, is he not?
The Way True Believers Are Known
What may sound like a differentiation between believers is really sorting true believers from those who may be revealing themselves as pretenders—their words are sent into-play from an uncircumcised heart (Jeremiah 4:4); there is no surrender before God by acting in obedient love. This may be a hard word, but it is, after all, what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-27 regarding hearers and doers.
The true believer is not known by their words of fury, by their point-making, or by their winning of the argument. Arguments, as a Christian objective, are pointless if there are winners and losers.
Love can be the only allowable, tolerable winner.
Intolerance has no place in the Christian’s armoury of opinion. What people believe, regarding God or any other thing, is up to them. A Christian’s love respects such a space as another person’s belief-realm. That is the unconditional Christian premise.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.