Tolerance or Cowardice?


Let me preface this by saying that it is written with as much love as I could possibly muster: Love for the Body of Christ, Love for Pastors, Love for Jesus.  There are some harsh statements, but Jesus made harsh statements.  There is some anguish – not anger – broken-hearted anguish for the Church that once was in the America that once was.

We live in a world where we are told that we are to tolerate everyone and everything.  Long gone are the days of Moses-like leadership.  When was the last time you were so heartbroken by the choices made by leaders or fellow Christians that you reacted like he did when he at long-last descended the mount?  Do you remember?  The children of Israel waited so long for Moses to return that they melted down the gold, that God had given them when they left Egypt, and fashioned it into the shape of a cow.  They called this cow Yahweh, the same as their name for the true God. Moses destroyed the first set of the ten commandments because of the anguish he was experiences as he watched his flock worshiping a false God.

If this were to happen today, many leaders… many Christians would argue that everyone is allowed to worship God in their own way! We are to tolerate everyone and everything.  The standard set by the Bible is no longer the standard for most believers because most believers have never read their Bibles.  We have become a generation like we read about in the books of Kings; those who “do what is right in their own eyes”.  We have become content to accept anyone who calls themselves “Pastor” as one and have ignored the very words of Christ to “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

The culture that we live in has declared war on Biblical standards.  A Pastor of one of the largest churches in America when asked why he doesn’t teach about sin or the doctrine of repentance found in the Bible said, “”These days, people want to know, ‘If I come to church, how’s it going to help me to live my life?’” This is what church has become.  How can I…  We are no longer on the “straight path of the LORD”. We are on “a crooked and wavering path” (Acts 13:10).

We live in a time where you aren’t allowed to tell someone what is true because by saying something is true you imply that the opposite is false or error.  We have become afraid to alienate anyone… to tell anyone they are wrong.  Many churches are more concerned about filling seats than changing lives.  If a Pastor tells you that you are living sinfully they risk losing you and losing a number and losing a buck or two in the offering.  But there’s far more of a risk in allowing you to live your life contrary to the Word of God.

We haven’t learned from decades of moral failure amongst celebrity Pastors.  We are doomed to follow in their footsteps for tolerance sake.  For the sake of “touching not the Lord’s anointed” we have failed to recognize deceivers “by their fruit” (Matthew 7:20). If an apple tree no longer bears apples is it still an apple tree?  To me it’s just a tree. But what of a Christian who no longer bears fruit? It will be cut off (John 15:2).

So why is it that we know that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10) and we read in 2 Timothy chapter 3 “…understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Yet, instead of avoiding them we flock to them.  Instead of recognizing them as deceivers we call them leaders?

We pick and choose the sin that is allowed in church leadership.  Surely, no homosexual could pastor our church but we applaud those who teach “a different kind of gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4).  We were taught that Jesus was humble, having grown up in a home no larger than a parking stall, why then do we fly around the world in private jets teaching poverty stricken tribes that Jesus wants us all to be wealthy?  Misconstruing, twisting and corrupting scripture to meet our needs claiming that God wants us to “Prosper even as our souls prosper.”  Could it be that with a heart so far from God’s own that our souls aren’t prospering at all?  If my soul is the standard for how my body is to prosper I feel sad for my body… for “my heart is wicked and deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Do I believe that God wants us to be happy? With all of my (wicked and deceitful) heart!  Do I believe that our human standards of happiness differ greatly from the standard set by the One who created us? Yes! Isaiah 55:8 tells us clearly that, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”

I believe that a Pastor should be paid his worth (the Bible tells us as much in 1 Corinthians 9:14) but I believe strongly in the example set by Ex-Pastor/Author Francis Chan.  Chan left his large church to follow the call of God.  That’s right… he stopped pastoring to answer the call.  What call? For him it was the move his family into a rougher neighborhood and minister to those around him.  Surely that isn’t the same for all men, but at some point I believe we must be willing to judge each other by the fruit we are producing.

The Bible says in Matthew 7 to “Judge not so that you won’t be judged” but it goes on to say that we will be judged by the same measure we were judging others with.  Which means if we are willing to be judged in the same way that we can – no – we MUST judge.  How else are we to determine the wolves from the sheep?  The truth from the lie?  The true prophet from the false?  Jesus tells us in the same chapter to “Judge with righteous judgement”.

Today it has become easy to ignore sin and call our cowardice “tolerance”.  Too afraid to expose anyone who is hurting the Body of Christ, we have embraced the enemy.  It is true that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25) so maybe it’s time to start evicting people are aren’t paying the rent?

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Faith Fleming says:

    Very insightful and thought provoking. Thank you Steve for having the courage to speak the truth. You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

  2. Cathy Exley says:

    Steve, you are right on! I have a book you could and should read it will help you to see what is happening and who the major players are in the current state of the American Church. Faith Undone by Roger Oakland

    There needs to come a time again when Pastors and all Church workers don’t feed solely off the business of the church. This will keep us all on the right path. When the church becomes the sole source of our incomes we make decisions based on the wrong motives. You are totally correct in that, as I personally have experience working on both ends of church business and life. The bigger the ministry the bigger the chances for error and personal failure as recent history is proven out in our nation. The bigger the mortgage payments on those buildings, the bigger the need to keep the seats filled: the greater the avenue for error develops. Not all fall here but many do, and that is sadly the course the general American Church is on.

    The Gospel is a way of life or a how to book on living a life pleasing to the Father. It is a simple redemptive message to the sins of the flesh, free to anyone who chooses to believe and walk under the Lordship of Christ. I fear that if the Lord returns now many organizational churches would be under the “wipe” of the money-changers tables the Lord hated. Freely He gave, Freely we receive, and Freely we live out our salvation’s with fear and trembling. And Need I Add, Freely We Called to Ministry are to Give it Out!

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