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Rick

Fear Grace

How can God’s grace be reconciled with the Bible’s demand that we “fear God”?  How can we at one moment believe that God’s wrath is on the verge of being unleashed upon us, and at the same time believe that He loves us unconditionally?

Perhaps it is that we really do not understand God’s love.  The Bible says, “love is patient”; it does not say love is tolerant.  We have incorrectly accepted the World’s view that tolerance is a virtue of love.  God’s love is unconditional, this does not mean that God does not place conditions upon our life, and that if He does He no longer loves us.  Better stated, God’s love is unmerited.  He loves us regardless of our condition. Could this be one reason why the Church has become luke-warm?  Have we grown to accept that a loving God must be a tolerant God?

God loves patiently!  Patience has an eventual end, knowing this should evoke fear and motivate compliance.  Tolerance is open-ended, allowing a margin for error.  How much error does God allow into His Kingdom?  Instead, He offers His own absolute righteousness as a covering for those that believe.  One can love the individual and be patiently holding back their wrath on that same individual simultaneously.  The inevitable is that one day God’s wrath will be unleashed, whereas in a tolerant relationship there is no wrath to unleash, because error has been legitimized.  

Tolerance enables opposing views to be treated with equal merit.  Truth becomes subjective rather than absolute.  Truth no longer is something we aspire, but rather something we manipulate to accommodate present circumstances and selfish desires.  In contrast, patience allows opposing views to exist only for a season.

Today, patience is often perceived as arrogance and smugness.  It presupposes that truth is absolute and that it can be apprehended and should be shared with others, while tolerance conveys openness to all perspectives and accepts that there is no single answer for everyone.

Make no mistake, there is a battle of words today and their subtle differences shape our world and can affect (and infect) our lives.  God’s judgment is being stayed only by His loving patience, and fear of His judgment is a compelling force that should ignite us to discover His will.  If we are luke-warm, it is because we do not fear God.  Rather, we believe that He is tolerant and accepting of our multiplicity of perspectives and actions.  In other words, we question that God really cares, and in so doing, compromise His love.
Steve

Very clearly written and understood, Rick.  That is a thoughtful passage that speaks truth, fully, and provides an action plan.  How do the different churches convey this message effectively?  There are as many different types of church-goers as there are different personalities in the world today.  Some accept truth willingly, some question truth, some are indifferent to truth but satisfied with routine, and there are plenty of others.  

Is there a way to convey a message to the masses?  Or does it need to happen grassroots to become effective?  

Here's a thought to consider--how do spiritual leaders/pastors convey that message of reality to their congregation, so that the congregation will actual listen (not just hear) what the pastor is saying?
Rick

Steve,
Your question is a difficult one for me "Is there a way to convey a message to the masses?  Or does it need to happen grassroots to become effective?".  For a long time I believed the problem was the way the message was being delivered.  In part I believe messages can become rote and boring when we use tired Christian jargon. More likely however, the exceedingly comfortable life style that most Americans have experienced an ease of life which dilutes our urgency, or appetite, for divine truth.  

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  

I believe prayer, the church turning to God for God's solution, is the answer to your question.  But how is an appetite for prayer established, and what does it take to bring the Church to the point where God's will is the only perspective worthy of pursuit?

Perhaps difficult times are ultimately what will be needed.
Andrea

In regard to the difference between tolerance and patience, my sister brought up an interesting point recently.  She was sharing that her fairly, newly-wed daughter was very busy with 3 jobs...nursing, home decorating, and her newest found job...dog-sitting for those on vacation, etc.  My sister said, " Her husband has been very tolerant of her most recent activities." (I'm assuming here because of the demands on their personal time together and their home, etc.)

I laughingly corrected her and said, "Don't let Rick hear you say tolerant...he prefers being patient over tolerant (based on his previous writings which my sister has read and is very much in agreement) However, she replied, "Well, I agree 1,000% when referencing sin, and God's loving patience.  But, in this case, loving dogs and sitting for others would not be considered a sin that needed patience for change, right?"  I agreed that was an interesting proposition, and one that I would certainly pose to Rick for his response.

He and I were thinking this through later, and I actually concluded that tolerance was not what my nephew-in-law was actually exhibiting in this case, but rather sacrifice, which is still a higher way, and another facet of God's love that tolerance can't hold a candle to!

What do you think, Sis, or anyone else in Cyberland?
Steve

I think the word tolerance is a media buzzword.  
Also, I think it's interesting that Webster's Dictionary has two meanings for the word "tolerate."

1: to endure or resist the action of (as a drug or food) without serious side effects or discomfort : exhibit physiological tolerance for

2 a: to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction b: to put up with <learn to tolerate one another>

I agree that her husband is sacrificing time together, so that she can work several jobs with the end focus of achieving a goal or lifestyle they can enjoy together.  As long as the intent and the motivation is for all the right reasons, there's no need for "tolerance" in that case.  When you're both on the same page it's definitely "sacrifice" in my humble opinion.

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If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. --C. S. Lewis