The Call Beyond Tolerance


An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

I read an interesting article about how tolerance has become a substitute for love. As Christians we often talk about tolerance toward others when truly the call of Jesus Christ is to love others, not simply tolerant them. The truth is tolerance is a lot easier than love.

In tolerance, we are asked to give nothing away. It costs us nothing to simply allow people to be who they are, where they are, and stay in the state in which they find themselves. Love requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and to offer a part of ourselves to others. This makes us vulnerable and open to possible pain and discomfort. Those whom we seek to love could take advantage of us. It is easy to see why tolerance seems a bit more popular these days.

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable … Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful about our own happiness … we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him.”

Jesus could have tolerated the religious hypocrites of his day. He could have tolerated the Romans who oppressed the Jews. He could have simply tolerated the tax collectors, prostitutes, and social outcasts. Instead, he loved them. He made himself vulnerable and open to pain. When we look at the cross we see what can be the true price for love. It is easy to see why a policy of tolerance looks more desirable to many.