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Look Up. Do You See Him?

The definition of "tolerance" has changed over the years. It used to mean that we should allow or "put up with" the cultures, beliefs, and laws of others. Currently, the word has taken on an additional meaning. We are supposed to do the above, but not only that - we are, by contemporary definition, encouraged to "embrace" the cultures, beliefs, and laws of others. I prefer the old definition. I like toleration to represent the respect of others although they may be different from me.

Tolerance is an important characteristic in society. It makes a way for people of all walks of life to co-exist in at least partial harmony. Tolerance was ever evident in my early years during the 1970's because racial lines were being attacked and schools were moving rapidly toward desegregation. I learned early on to accept all people and cultures and to respect their ideals. I have been a part of multicultural churches my whole life. I genuinely appreciate the characteristics that multiculturalism brings to a church and community.

There is another tolerance that, I believe, matters more than societal tolerance. It is religious toleration. First of all, I do not agree with complete religious toleration by contemporary definition. You will see momentarily that this is not about the toleration of sects and doctrine, but of people in various places in their relationship with Christ. I cannot sanction false religion that does not honor the One True God and His Word. There is no compromise in me for any deviations from Scripture, seeking for spiritual guidance from things that are not of God, idolatry, and false doctrine or tradition that is plainly not in the Bible. This strong brew that you have selected to read is about recognizing that many people may be closer to God than you think. This writing is designed to encourage you to see that the road to Christ is long and full of people and none of them are at the exact same point on the road.

There is value in recognizing that although a person may not be in the full knowledge of Christ and His Word, if they are on the way, if they are on the road, I have no right to discredit their existing relationship with Christ. Nor do I have any right, God forbid, to judge that person or determine their eternal destination based on how far along I think their relationship with God is. For even those who think they have Scripture deeply rooted in their hearts, have followed all of its commandments, and who strongly desire to know Christ, when they crest a hill on this road, discover that the continual road to spiritual maturity stretches on before them as far as the eye can see. For those who hunger to know Christ there is granted knowledge of Him, and when more knowledge of Him is present, the recipient realizes how much more of Him there is to know. Who can know the depths of God and who can measure His dimensions? For those who have been on the road to spiritual maturity all their lives there commonly comes a feeling that they know everything there is to know about God and His commandments. Unfortunately, many feel that because they have followed the plan of salvation, have exercised spiritual gifts, and are producing the fruit of His Spirit that they have experienced and collected knowledge of all there is to know about spiritual matters. Refuse to stand still on the road and continue walking. Crest the hill and see what lies in wait. It is an ongoing and joyous adventure of discovery. For when you find new knowledge, you quickly learn that all you thought you knew before was hardly anything compared to what you know now. And upon knowing that, you realize that what you know now can hardly compare to what you could know if you would continue to walk the road toward Him.

There are many before you and many after you. Who can say of anyone on the road that they do not know Christ because they do not yet know everything you may know? To discredit that person, and again, God forbid, judge them, is to discredit the very work of God. This is how He works. He draws us to Him, gradually teaching us and giving us illumination and revelation of more of Him.

Encourage those on the road to spiritual maturity. I say, "Walk on!" Don't look on me with judgmentalism. When I look up from the road on which I travel, I see Him. When I look back I see past failures and lesson learned. When I look back I see the sinner I was. If each time that I look up I see Him, I am going in the right direction. If I look up and see past problems and confusion, sin and temptation, failure and heartache, somehow I got turned around and my back is to God. If each of us can look up on this road and see Him, we are all going in the right direction. Do not discredit those on the journey. Their relationship is maturing just as yours is. Be tolerant of their place in God and do not allow race, culture, creed, or denominational divisions to discredit those people that have relationship with Him. Pray for one another and encourage that we all may grow in our knowledge of Him. And when the end is come, Jesus, the Just Judge, will welcome those who know Him.