Christians Might Be Crazy #1 – Intolerance

Christians Might Be Crazy #1 – Intolerance

– All right, this is gonna be fun. I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time. Welcome to our brand new sermon series, Christians Might Be Crazy. And the whole point is six weeks. We’re gonna look at the primary objections and questions about the Christian faith. All of you are on a spectrum from maybe you love Jesus with all your heart, or you think that we are nuttier than a snickers bar because we do. Whatever the case, may be we love you, we’re glad to have you. And the title for this series actually comes from a conversation that I had with a guy some years ago. I just got done preaching, he came up after church and he was a nice guy and he was trying to figure out exactly what Christians believe. And he’s like, okay, let me just run this by and see if I got this right. He said, so there is a God, yeah, you’re off to a good start. That’s what we believe. And he said, God lives in heaven like a hip hop mogul. He sits on a throne, gold streets, everything’s good for him. He’s got a staff called angels and he’s living large. I said, yeah, that’s all fact. And he said, so the night God decided to come down to the planet earth, to live in a rural town, to poor parents and work a dead end job as a carpenter. I said yeah, he’s like, that doesn’t make any sense at all. I said, I know, I know. It’s called humility. It is a little different. He said, so then this guy never said or did anything wrong, he was perfect. I said yeah and his name is Jesus. He’s like, okay. And so we killed him. I said, yeah, we crucified him on a cross. He said, three days later he came back. I said, yeah. He said he had a virgin mother and then he beat death. I said, yeah. He said, that’s unusual. I said, yeah, we know that. We understand that this sounds a little different. He looked at me and he said, so we have to believe in this Jesus if we wanna have our sins forgiven and go to heaven forever. I said, that’s exactly what we believe. The look on this dude’s face is exactly the same as if I would have told him that I was a taco. That’s exactly. He’s just looking at me like, really, okay, this is where we’re at. I said so, yeah, this is what we believe. And he asked me a good question. He said, do you think that Christians might be crazy? I said, you know what? Now that I’m telling you what we believe, I’m open to that possibility. This does sound… When you just say it, it does sound a little crazy, amen. And I said, would you be willing to consider that Christians are correct? He said, I would be. I said, well if I’m willing to consider that they’re crazy, you’re willing to consider that they’re correct. Why don’t we start meeting and talking about it? So I bought him a nice Bible. We met basically every week for a number of months and he would bring his questions and objections. Eventually he moved away and I’ve lost contact with him. So if you’re listening to this buddy, I hope you’re doing well. But nonetheless, it sort of revealed to me that in my heart, in my mind, in my soul, I sensed there was a tectonic shift regarding the culture’s view of Christ and Christianity. And it was no longer, is Christianity right or wrong but is it moral or immoral? And so what I wanted to figure out is what the people like this guy, nice guy, good guy, I love this guy, I liked this guy. What are their primary objections to Christianity? What objections might they pose that we could answer? Because it seemed to me like the answers that Christians were giving were to questions that no one was asking. That if we’re not answering the questions that people are asking we’re not actually loving and helping. So, I got a team of scholars, researchers, guys with more degrees than Fahrenheit. We put together a little bit of a survey and then I wanted to do some actual research. So let me give you the gist of it. And all of this is in the book. You can find it online, if you’re here at the church, you get a free copy. So, we hired GFK, it’s a research firm that is one of the leading firms globally. And what they do is, they call people for data point surveys. You would do this for a business or a political campaign. So 913,000 random digital dial calls were made. 900,000 people were called on the phone. 1000 people were chosen as a focus group. They were ages 18 to 44. Median age was 31. Average interview lasted about around 12 minutes. And they would describe themselves as this way. 25% were unchurched meaning they had no history with Christianity. They’d not been in a church service, not part of any sort of religious event of any sort or kind. And then 75% were dechurched. Maybe as a kid or at some point in their life, they darken the door of the church for some reason. Next slide please. And then we ask questions like Christian history. Have you ever at any time in your life affiliated with a Christian religion or not? 60% said no, 39% said yes. Excuse me. 60% said yes, 39% said no. And one stubborn percent refused to answer. There’s always that 1%, they’re like, none of your business. Okay, so then the next slide please. Childhood religious participation as a child. Did you ever attend worship services regularly at least once a month or not? Yes, 75%, no, 25%. So many of these people as a little kid went to church occasionally and then stopped going as soon as they got old enough. Maybe that is some of your story. Well, here’s what we discovered in all the research. Next slide please. And it’s all in the book and I’ve gotta move very fast. Usually I’ve got two pages of notes and the sermon takes an hour and I’ve got five pages of notes and we only have six weeks till Easter and I’m hoping to finish this one sermon before then. So I’m gonna move as fast as I can and you can read it for yourself. Religious participation. How often do you attend worship services? And this is any religion of any sort or kind, not just Christianity. Not including special events such as weddings, funerals. And if it’s your own funeral, it doesn’t count ’cause you didn’t really choose to go, right. Or major religious holidays such as Easter, Yom Kippur or Ramadan. Every few months, 13%, once in a while, 50%, never 37%. Give you an idea of who we are talking to and who we are investigating. Next slide please. So what are the top seven objections to Christianity? What you might find interesting, at least I did is that across all ages, all races, all regions, all backgrounds, every variable, the exact number one same issue arose for every single group. And here are the objections. Number one, intolerance. Intolerance. How many of you Christians have heard this? How many of you non-Christians have said this? And their belief is that some Christian groups are too intolerant. That’s 55%. 50%, it was sexuality. The Christian faith and I have different views on social issues like abortion or gay marriage. Politics and this was before the recent presidential election. I did all this research and I was looking forward to releasing it. Had a complicated season. Couldn’t… I believe the research was prophetic. I believe it was looking into the future and predicting the reality that we’re now experiencing. This was before the recent election. Let me just tell you now, it might be a few points higher, amen. It might be. I don’t like how some Christian groups meddle in politics and then morality, many Christians are hypocrites. Next slide please. Religion. There are lots of religions and I’m not sure one has to be the right way. Equality. Christians believe that all people are not created equal in authority. I don’t share the same beliefs that the Christian faith tells me that I should. In my estimation, there is one issue in six arenas. The singular issue that is the feeder belief of Christianity in the modern age is intolerance. And it plays itself out in six different arenas. Think of it like a war that is fought on six different fronts. There is intolerance in the realm of sexuality, politics, morality, religion, equality and authority. That the issue under every issue is the issue of intolerance. And basically the culture or those in the culture are largely saying, Christians are intolerant and it shows up in a number of areas. So what you and I need to see is whether it’s politics, morality, spirituality, sexual identity, as these issues explode. And they explode in the culture, they explode on social media, they explode in the news. The issue under the issue is always intolerance. So that kind of gave me a bit of black and white data but I wanted more high def color. And so what we did is we commissioned focus groups. These are people, groups of eight or nine that would sit down and have a conversation, total strangers. Let me tell you a little bit about the focus groups. We had them in San Francisco, Austin, Boston and Phoenix, okay. Home sweet home. A thousand people were interviewed for the surveys and in these focus groups, it was eight to nine people. They were total strangers, male and female. They were brought together by a moderator that had overseen about 17,000 different focus groups at that time. This is what you’ll do for politics or business or brand establishment. And just hear me in this. These were total strangers who had never met and sat down to have a conversation for two hours. We told them they were being recorded. They didn’t know by whom or for what. And also, they signed a release, and so if you’re watching, you can’t sue me. Okay, so what we did, we took all of this and transcribed it. It’s about 400 pages of conversation. I read it over and over and over and over and over. The first question was, what are your thoughts when I say Christians, Christianity, the church and Jesus 100% of all of the first responses were negative. 100%. I’ll give you some quotes. If you’re not discouraged, this will help. Okay, I have a negative connotation with all those words. I feel like they might try to recruit me or the place may go up in flames when I walk through the door, I feel judgment. Part of me goes on the defensive. I feel like I have to defend myself. Pushy and unrespectful because growing up, I felt like I was pushed into going to church. Then it talks about the evil Southern Baptist. I’ll get a drink of water ’cause that’s all we’re allowed to drink. That was funny. Okay, the evil Southern Baptist, it says there are great Southern Baptists that you can drink beer with and then there are the evil ones that you wanna get away from. Another one says, I often associate those words with extremest. Extremest of all religions terrify me. It invokes fear. And the last one says, the concept of Christianity is very oppressive and it naughty word me off most days. My point to you would be, that doesn’t feel super tolerant, amen. I’m not feeling the tolerance. In addition, I can’t imagine this being said of any other group. Religious group, ethnic group, genders, I can’t imagine. But it was acceptable among total strangers to start there. And so what I did is I took all of the data and then the focus groups read through the transcripts and tried to figure out what are the primary objections so that we could seek to answer them. And what I found was some stifling stereotypes. A woman from Boston says, quote, “Christians don’t have any education.” What I’m reading from the focus trans group… And I know the woman from Boston’s probably shocked that I can read. I’m gonna read this to you in a moment but this was the common conversation. Christians don’t have any education. They haven’t done any college. So conversion for me is very negative. It means uneducated. It means somebody that’s not a deep thinker, just a sheep, right. A woman in Phoenix said Christians are uninformed, uneducated, do not think for themselves. They’re just following organized religion instead of thinking for themselves. And a woman from Austin says we are very brainwashed and hypnotized. We don’t necessarily mean to be hateful or intolerant. They’re just not as smart as me. I think a lot of it but is just how they were raised and it was a cult thing. So the general assumption is is that Christians are a problem and that Christians are stupid and if Christians were educated, they would think differently. Now, we could get defensive, amen. Don’t, don’t, don’t, okay. Let’s just have fun with it, that’s what I’m gonna suggest. And here’s what I observed listening to the conversations. Number one, some people have no church experience at all. When asked, how do you learn about Christianity? I kid you not, many of them had never been to church. And what they did mention was the film, the Exorcism of Emily Rose. Okay. Religious by Bill Maher as we all know, Bill Maher really nails Christianity and has done a lot of deep New Testament study. In addition, Steve Martin’s, Leap of Faith. If you okay… If all of you know about Christianity is what you see in a movie or on TV, you may not get the most accurate impression, amen. That’s like, if you live in other country and you’re like, what do you know about America? Will they make moonshine and catch catchers with their hands? I seen it on the TV. That may not be the best impression and we’re not all just like that, right. Some of us are, but not all of us, don’t judge. And it was weird too, because in one of the transcripts, this one person said, yeah, my friend took me to church and it really freaked me out especially when they all did the Nazi salute. Different team, totally different team. But if you’ve never been to church and you don’t know and all you’ve seen is youth rallies in community college on some black and white footage and all of a sudden everybody’s doing this you’re thinking, I gotta go. I got… I know how this ends, not well. So what I wanna say to you is many people have no church experience. How many of you have traveled to a foreign country and you have no idea what was happening? But it’s nice to have a tour guide or a friend. Don’t assume that people who are non-Christian have any real experience with Christians. Act as a friend, act as a tour guide, don’t get offended. Just like, okay, let me explain this. You know, this is not a Hitler youth rally. This means we like Jesus, okay. It’s just a little different. Number two. Some people don’t know any Christian at all. I know this will shock you. So they mentioned, I think it was 17 people in the eight focus groups, two hours of conversation, hardly anyone really referenced a person that they knew was a Christian. Who do you think they mentioned most frequently? Dr. Billy Graham, which I would say, yay. Okay, yay. And he’s with Jesus today having a really good day. In addition here’s everyone else mentioned. Television personalities, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, Jim Tammy Faye Bakker, Ted Haggard, the industrialist, John Rockefeller who died in 1937, a politician, Michelle Bachmann, two football players, Deion Sanders and Tim Tebow, political pastors, Pat Robertson, Al Sharpton and Jerry Falwell who died in 2007. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. The guy who protests funerals, he’s protested me. I put it on my LinkedIn. It’s one of my favorite things. Jerry Jones, the pastor who wanted to burn the Korean, and James Austin, a Zen Buddhist neurologist. That’s everybody they mentioned. How many of you, that wouldn’t have been your list? Okay, so don’t assume that anybody knows a Christian. And if all they see is the things on TV they may not be getting the most accurate response. Some people had no idea what a Christian is. So looking at all the focus groups, here’s everything that they call Christian. Jehovah’s witnesses, that’s a cult Wicker, that’s witchcraft. That’s not us. I’m not leaning over the plate and taking one for that team. Where we don’t do right… Libertarianism, which is a political ideology, Scientology Huh? It’s a science fiction cult. Hinduism was listed, Hinduism. And it believes in… Buddhism was listed, it doesn’t even believe in God and the Mormons which one guy called the evangelical Christians on bikes. Just delivering the news, okay. So, some people never been to church. Some people don’t know a Christian and some people don’t know what a Christian is. Furthermore, some people had bad religious parenting. When I talked to the woman who oversaw the focus groups, I asked her, I said anything that sort of stuck out to you. And she said, some of these people have very negative views of the church because of the parenting they experienced. So let’s just be honest and say, let’s take a look at ourselves as well. Some of the people in the focus groups, they had what I would call very religious upbringings. That’s lots of rules and very little relationship. Parenting that is heavy on rules and light on relationship can lead to rebellion, right. Rules without relationship results in rebellion. Rules without relationship results in rebellion. And some of these people told very painful stories of how their parents would quote the Bible and beat them, literally beat them and assault them. And so what she said was, sometimes the way that religious people treat their kids causes their kids to grow up and to reject Christ and Christianity because all they hear is the voice of their parents and all they see is the character of mom and dad. So let’s be careful if we’re raising kids and grandkids that it’s lots of love and lots of relationship, and the goal is to seek their good and not just to impose our will, okay. And then number five, some people had a bad experience with a Christian. Now, let’s acknowledge this. The Bible talks a lot about Jesus’ emotional life. The number one emotion mentioned of Jesus in the Bible is compassion, okay. So if we believe in Jesus, we also need to believe in compassion. And compassion is, I wanna understand what you’ve been through so that I can have some empathy, some sympathy, some understanding for your experience. And there were many of these. One was from a lesbian woman. She says, quote, “When I was about 14, I was walking” “down the street with my girlfriend holding hands.” “We stopped and sat down on the curb.” “We were having a discussion.” “I had a really tough upbringing.” So 14 year old girl, eighth or ninth grade, rough family on a walk holding hands with her girlfriends sits on a curb. Some lady came around the corner on the suburban, was screaming out of her window, you’re going to hell, cursing at us every profanity. Got about two inches with us, tried to run us over with the suburban, yelling the F-word, you’re disgusting and all these things, you’re going to hell, okay. So having compassion means, okay, that was your experience. If that’s… If the closest you got to a Christian with someone cussing at you while they’re trying to run you over in their car, I think it’s reasonable to come to the conclusion that you’re not a big fan of Christians, okay. So let me say, I have said and done things that I regret and I know were not helpful or compassionate. And I would say on behalf of all Christians, we do believe that we are to be compassionate and we are well aware of when we fall short. And some of us who are Christians, we’ve also had negative experiences with what I would call religious people, okay. How many of you are Christians and you’re like, I’ve met some people that, urgh, they say the name Jesus, but they don’t look like him. We had an experience some years ago, our kids were little. We took them to a state fair. Ride the ride, see the exhibits, pet the animals, eat the junk food. I wore, I think a hoodie and glasses and a hat ’cause I just wanted to be left alone. And we made it through the fair and I thought this was a good day just hung out with the kids. And then as we’re walking out, there are these flipper fry, Turner Burn, I’ll call them street evangelists. And not all of those people are bad but these guys had really big signs. They were very aggressive. They had bullhorns. ‘Cause nothing says I love you like a bull horn. And I mean, they got Jesus and Jihad all confused. I mean, they really did. And so they’re screaming and yelling at people. I’m walking out, holding the hands of the kids ’cause it’s a busy crowd and I don’t wanna lose my kids. My goal is always to end the day with the same number I started with. So we’re trying to make our way through the crowd and I got my head down and they recognize me. They reckon… Yeah, okay. And then they start yelling at me. If you were a real Christian you wouldn’t be ashamed of the gospel. You’d be out here with us. You’d be doing dah, dah, dah, dah. Well all of a sudden now they’re protesting me and my family. They circled me and my family. I got little kids. They’ve got big signs. They’re grown men with bullhorns. And I’ve just learned if you engage you will enrage so I just need to get the kids to the car. My kids terrified. They’re freaked out. They’re getting screamed at and they’re surrounded by a mob of angry men with the Bullhorn. They followed us all the way to our car which was quite a walk. It was some blocks up. As I’m loading the kids in the car, they are screaming at my children, right. We got in the car, shut the doors, drove away. I told the kids. Kids are like, who is that? I said those are the guys who murdered Jesus. That’s not our team, okay. So I told the kids, that’s not our team, right. That what they’re doing and how they’re saying it, I mean, it is just not helpful to the course, okay. And so, we’ve all had some bad experiences. Some of us have been the bad experience. I’ve been guilty of that. Christians and non-Christians we can agree on this point that if you were to communicate the good news of the love of Jesus, there needs to be a love for the person and some sort of compassion toward their experience. Now, that being said, as we looked at the focus group transcripts and as I come through the data, the conversation continually went toward this. Black and white thinking versus gray thinking. Black and white thinking versus gray thinking. I’ll quote Tony from Boston. “And here’s this problem with Christianity.” “To me, it’s a religion that is absolute.” So they’d say that’s the problem. That’s the problem. Christians think in terms of black and white not shades of gray. There’s not gray areas within evangelical Christianity. It’s black or white, correct or wrong. It’s interesting listening to all of us say what the middle ground is even in our wording of things. We weren’t thinking middle ground of things, we were judgmental of them. Tony says, it’s interesting Christians are judgmental and they bother us, so we judge them. It’s an interesting observation from a hypocrite. Maybe I’m doing it myself by saying black and white but that to me is just a statement of fact that’s neutral. Some people may be fine with being black and white. Some people prefer shades of gray. It doesn’t make one thing more correct than the other. So here’s what Tony is saying. And it summarizes many of the conversations in all the cities. Christians think black and white and that’s wrong, everything is gray. There is no ultimate right or wrong. And he says, my problem with Christianity is it’s black and white, not gray. Two things I’ll point out. Number one, to think that way you’re making a a black and white statement. Are Christians good or bad? They’re bad. Oh, so they’re not gray. They’re not gray. No, no, no. I believe in gray and for sure black and white, they’re wrong. So what is your problem? They have absolute beliefs. Are you absolutely sure they’re wrong? Yes I am. Okay. If you’re sober, you’re getting this, okay. So Tony goes on to say, here’s what Tony says. And I’m just quoting Tony. “Personally in my life,” “I don’t have any room for evangelical beliefs.” “I’d like to say it’s because I’m logical.” “I have faith entirely in myself.” “That’s an interesting statement.” We have faith in Jesus. Tony has faith in Tony. We’re both trusting one guy. I’m just gonna say my guy’s better choice. That’s all. I don’t have the same beliefs but to give it to somebody else, just to have an open mind if something feels wrong with it, then back out. When I dump it, when I say he says, when I say dump it, Christianity, he says, quote, that’s my black and white response. Tony says, I only believe in gray, but when it comes to Christianity, dump it, that’s my black and white response. So, here’s what happens is, both Christians and non-Christians, we use black and white thinking. Christians and non-Christians will say that certain things are wrong and we get upset about it. That’s why there’s pickets and protests and social media posts and lots of cultural upheaval. But what happens is we tend to think gray is for me, black and white is for you. So I’m gonna show you what’s wrong with you but you can’t judge me. This is the hypocrisy. This is the hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is gray for me, black and white for you. You’re wrong, I’m right. You can’t judge me. There is no right and wrong. And so what I learned as I was reading the transcripts, 400 pages over and over and over and over and over, I found that every time somebody would make a black and white judgment against Christianity, they would use a verbal qualifier. Let me read them to you. I think I feel for me to me, I personally believe not to judge. Do you know what somebody does right before they judge? They say not to judge. In my opinion, personally, from my perspective, in my experience, I believe my belief system not to be stereotypical, not to be judgmental from my understanding in my mind, in my life, in my case, and I try not to be judgemental but, do you know what the difference between, in my personal opinion, from my experience, I think you’re an idiot versus you’re an idiot. Do you know what the difference is? Nothing. This one just use more words and took more time. That’s the only difference. So what happens is everybody’s judging everybody and some people say that there is no judgment. So then we have to put verbal qualifiers which is just a lot of smoke and a lot of theatrical and a lot of illusion. So, as I looked at the data and dug deeper into it, what I discovered was, again the number one objection is in tolerance. And there is an old tolerance versus a new tolerance. There’s a gentleman named Dr. Don Carson. He wrote a book, the Intolerance of Tolerance. And he looked at the dictionary definition of tolerance. And what he found was that actually in the Western world, in English language, over the course of some years, the definition of the word tolerance has changed. So Christians tend to think in terms of what I’ll call the old tolerance, non-Christians tend to think in terms of what I’ll call the new tolerance. The old tolerance was that morality, was like math. If I could use a simple analogy, okay. How many of you are math teachers? How many of you have a degree in math? You can’t walk into the classroom and say, in my opinion, according to my experience, who are you to judge? I have my own answer to the problem. Do not read my paper, right. Because in math, there is a right answer, there’s a wrong… There’s a whole bunch of wrong answers. So the belief was that morality was like math. That math is fixed. That math is unchanging. The math doesn’t vary from culture to culture or from generation to generation. Two plus two was four, is four and will forever be four. And so in math, the assumption is that there is an answer and that if you and I disagree, we can’t both be right. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m right. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re both wrong. Maybe we both got the math wrong. But the good thing is, is that we tolerate one another. We endure with one another. We put up with one another and we dialogue about it because maybe you’re right and I need to change. Maybe I’m right. You need to change. Maybe we’re both wrong and we both need to change through disagreement and dialogue. Assuming that the other person is probably wrong. We’ll come to the truth, okay. Now the new tolerance says, you’re right and I’m right. And I celebrate you and you celebrate me. So it’s not just enough to put up with me when you think I’m wrong. You’re not allowed to think I’m wrong. And it’s not enough for you to just let me do my thing, you need to celebrate my thing and I need to celebrate your thing. That’s why our culture has these two words all the time, celebrate and pride. For all kinds of issues and causes. You should be proud of your answer and I should celebrate it. And I should be proud of my answer and you should celebrate it. That is the new definition of tolerance. It’s gone from I think you’re wrong, but I’m gonna put up with you and we’re gonna have shout out too. We’re both right and neither of us gets to make any declaration that the other even has the possibility of being wrong. Now where this all started is in the 1960s. It’s where a lot of bad things started by the way. In the 1960s, what happened in public schools was something called values, clarification, education. If you were born after the 1960s, this is the world you were reared in. This is the reality that you perceive from. And it was, there is no right or wrong. There is no moral standard. There is no objectivity. There’s nothing that would qualify as truth. There is nothing beyond the self. The highest authority is me. Therefore, the student needs to get in touch with their feelings, their perspectives, their ideas, their conclusions without judging anyone else. And that has led to an entire curriculum. And my question would be, number one, why did we pick tolerance? Like where did we get that? Who voted for that based upon what? And furthermore, why do we assume that something is new is automatically better than something that’s old, right. If Christianity is a few thousand years old and the biggest movement in the history of the world and is led to the greatest human flourishing, why would we look at it and say, it’s old. Maybe it’s just proven. There’s all these undercurrents of assumptions of right and wrong that have no appeal to any external authority. So, why should I subscribe to something that I don’t personally adhere to if I am the highest authority in my own life and there’s nothing beyond me? So at least to this question then should Christians be tolerant? So what I did then I did the research, did the focus groups. And then I started calling some Christian experts. Calls and emails, interviewed them. You may or may not be familiar with Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, John Townsend, Norman Geisler, Wayne Grudem John Piper, a whole bunch of people. I interviewed them. I said, okay, here’s the objection. Here’s the conversation. How would you respond? Okay, so I contacted Dr. John Frame. He’s got degrees from Princeton Yale in Westminster Seminary. He says, quote, “Every individual or group” “except some beliefs practices and people” “in various ways and rejects others.” What he says is every culture says, yes to some things and no to other things. He goes on to say, so we’re all tolerant and intolerant in different ways. I think that’s true. It is unreasonable. Therefore, either to favor or to disfavor tolerance in general when someone says some Christian groups are too intolerant, we need to find out more specifically the nature of the complaint. What groups, what are they intolerant of? How do they express their intolerance? Is this intolerance good or bad? So the first question is, and this was Frames perspective. Should we tolerate perspectives? What do you think? Yes. No one will agree on everything. How many of you are married? and you’ve come to this conclusion, right. I’ve had people come up to me and say, I don’t agree with everything you say. Well, neither do I Right? How many of you have changed your mind? Right? We tolerate perspectives. Yes, we believe in freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly. People will disagree. But what I would say is two things that are opposed cannot simultaneously be true. For example, the atheist says there is no God and lots of religions say there is a God. While there either is a God or there isn’t a God. It’s like if I tell you, there’s a yellow truck parked outside. Well, there either is or there isn’t. If it’s an objective statement of fact, it can’t simultaneously be true and false. There is an answer. Now, what I think is interesting is in the conversation there were language words that were used to describe Christians. And these were not very tolerant. So the conversation was about the intolerance of Christians. And I’ll read this to you. Said we were misguided, crazy, selective hearing, psychologically manipulative, dangerous, hypocrites, corruption, dogma, scamming indoctrinating kids too young to think for themselves. So now parenting is indoctrinating. Oppression, wanna be told what to do. Conformity, ignorance, blind acceptance, weak personality, closed minded. A little too happy. Let me tell you this right now. Somebody smiling. You should be very concerned about them ’cause that’s the problem in our country. There’s too much joy. Overbearing, militant recruiting, reprogramming, brainwashing, extremists, almost a gang, abnoxious creepy old white men, a creepy old white men right now are feeling offended. Anti-science organized religion, turning into a monster and whack job religion. So as they’re having a conversation of how tolerance, let me just submit to you, it wasn’t super tolerant, okay. Should we tolerate practices? What do you think? Well, I would say, it depends. In the old tolerance, what I think you’re doing is wrong and I’ll tell you it’s wrong even though I disagree with it. And the new tolerance, I celebrate you, I show up for your parade, and I like it on my social media account. Well, if I think it’s wrong, then no, I can’t do the new tolerance. I can’t do that. I can’t do that. But, in that, let’s just do some case studies. Should we make a vegetarian eat meat? No. Somebody said yes and… Well if we love them, we would give them barbecue and barbecue is my love language, okay. Okay. A Muslim woman who is wearing a head covering, should we force her to remove it? No, No. What about somebody likes to smoke and they wanna smoke on an airplane. No, they used to be yes. And now it’s no. See, the problem is none of us lives on an Island all by ourselves. If you’re the only authority in your life and they’re the only authority in their life, at some point your lives meet. This is the problem. We have to get along. We have to live together. I’ll give you a controversial example since we haven’t done controversy yet today. There was a friend of ours about a year ago called… They had a kid who was in junior high. They actually had a son and a daughter. And you know, for school there’s sort of spirit week. So, dress up as a cowboy dress up disco day, different dress of fun. Well, the school declared one day to be transgender day. Meaning, the son wears the daughters clothes, the daughter wears the son’s clothes. And maybe on that day they swap restrooms to just experiment. So the student is thinking, I got tests, my grades are… I don’t wanna skip. I need to go to school. It’s a school day. So the parents, Christian, calls the school and ask, is this really what’s happening? And the school says, yeah, yeah. It’s spirit week. The parent says, well, my child doesn’t feel very comfortable doing that. Is there any alternative? The counselor said and I quote, “Well, you could raise them to be a bigot.” Okay. It’s like, okay. So my options are, I hand over my parental responsibilities or we’re bigots. See, I want the compassion to go in both direction. We’re not saying that Christians need to be baptized. Excuse me, that non-Christians need to be baptized. We’re not saying that non-Christians, need to be forced to pray. We’re not saying that non-Christians need to be forced to partake of communion. ‘Cause Christianity is a religion of proposition, not imposition. So we propose a relationship with Jesus. We don’t impose a relationship with Jesus. But it does feel that there are times for the Christian and the non-Christian when there is disagreement the question is, are you going to impose on me or will I impose on you? This is where we are not islands. We are all citizens. How about this one? Should we tolerate people? This one’s not complicated but, this is not a trick question. Should we tolerate people? Yeah, we have to. God made people. God loves people. We love people. The Bible says to love your enemies. The Bible says to love your neighbors. The Bible says to love people. Now, what was very interesting was the focus group leader. She posed this question in San Francisco to the women. What if a woman moved in to live with you? They were all single. And she was a born again, Bible believing evangelical Christian. Would you tolerate that person living with you? That was the question and that was the discussion. Here is the discussion that ensued. That’s a factor. And then somebody else said, that’s prejudiced. And somebody else said, that’s like finding out somebody’s gay or finding out somebody of a different ethnicity. That’s full on prejudice to say, I know one thing about this person, I don’t want a room with them. That’s going against everything we say we have a problem with. That seems totally wrong. If they’re a jerk, happened to be a Christian, that’s something different based on faith that’s pure prejudice. Another person says, I think it’s more likely for them to be judging me than for me to judging them. Another person says, I feel like all the judgments being made are more of the whole institution. But with individual people, you don’t know how they’re going to be. Another person says, I feel like we’re bashing them. And then they come to the conclusion. Yes, I believe that if I found out my roommate was an evangelical I’d wanna switch roommates. Because again, you could think in these grand terms, but if I need to share a house with you and you do things differently than me, this is life together. And as Christians, we need to love and we need to care and we can disagree. But yes, we need to tolerate people. But if there are things that they are doing that they want us to do, or things that they are doing that they want us to bless and celebrate, we need to live according to conscience and we need to do what is right in the sight of God not just what’s right in the side of the person that feels somewhat offended. ‘Cause let’s just say, wherever you’re at on these issues, everyone feels offended at some point. Everyone feels imposed upon at some point. So this leads to the question. What does the Bible say about tolerance? Most of my sermons, I reasoned from the scriptures, these I’m reasoning to the scriptures. I want to start out there with many of the non-Christians and to ask, okay, what are your questions and objections? I wanna sympathize with those, I wanna relate to those, I wanna understand those, I wanna wrap my brain around that, and then I want to deal with what the scripture says, not because I believe that the non-Christian believes the Bible, but if we’re being tolerant and diverse and looking at multiple perspectives, how about this one? What does the Bible say about tolerance? If you look in your English translations, it doesn’t really show up hardly at all. It just doesn’t. On a few occasions, the word tolerate or tolerance is used by God because there are behaviors that unbelievers have, that he does not tolerate for his believers, his believers are tolerating them, so he rebukes the believers for tolerating unbelieving behavior. So God uses it negatively. I’ll give you two examples. 1 Corinthians 5:1. It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality. That’s a judgment, right. The word immorality is a judgment, amen, right. Sexual immorality among you of a crime that is not even tolerated among the pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. The Corinthian church was just like American culture, right. They had all kinds of gender sexual issues. They had lots of chemical dependency. It was a crazy church in a crazy city. And what God says is God says, well, there’s people that believe in me and people that don’t. I don’t expect the people who believe in me to do what the Bible says but the people who say they believe in me, I expect them to do what the Bible says and one of the guys is now got a relationship with his stepmother. And they’re in the church and everybody’s like, and God’s like, no, why do you tolerate that? Don’t tolerate something I don’t We’re not talking about non-Christians, we’re talking about Christians. If you’re going to say, I am a Christian then what you were saying is, I am under the authority of God’s word. It says this in Revelation 2:20, and this is Jesus. But I have this against you that you tolerate that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice what? Sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed titles. He says, here’s my problem. You’re tolerating spirituality that is not right and sexuality that is not right. That’s how the Bible uses the word tolerant. And it’s negative. It’s negative. And what God is saying is my people should have a a moral aspiration that is different from the people that are not my people. That’s why there are Christians and non-Christians. How about this one? What in, well, let me say this too. Number… Two things I’d say on this point. Number one, Christianity is the most overt, honest, transparent movement. The Bible is clear and we just tell it. We’re not hiding it. We’re not trying to game the system. It’s nothing nefarious. There is a God. There is sin. Life needs to change. Certain behaviors are not acceptable in the sight of God. And it’s so bad that God had to die for us. That’s how bad it is. Number two, Christianity is the most diverse movement of any kind in history of the world. The Bible is in 1500 plus languages. Billions of people follow Jesus. If you’re looking for diversity, you should investigate Christianity. So most diverse of many kind, thousands of years, billions of people, tremendous diversity, but all aligned around the personal work of Jesus. Now, what invariably happens is when the issue comes up, the objection is, well, if you believe the Bible then you believe in this principle that God is Love. And if God is love that means God is tolerant. And if God is tolerant that means God doesn’t judge. Therefore, if you love you can’t judge. Let’s look at it, okay. This was by the way as a non-Christian. This was one of the only verses I knew. God is love, thou shall not judge. We’re gonna deal with both of those. Here’s what it says. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they’re from God. Do you see that there is judgment here? Holy spirits, unholy. He’s talking about demons here and angels. For many what? False prophets. Not just different perspectives. But they’re wrong, and what they’re saying is not true. Have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of God, every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. There are certain things from God, certain things, not from God. That is a judgment. This is a spirit of the antichrist. That’s a judgment. You are from God and overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he is in the world. They’re from the world, therefore they speak from the world and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us. Whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and error. Is that a judgment, truth and error? That sounds like math. That sounds like math. That’s the right answer. That’s the wrong answer. Beloved, let us one another… Love one another for love is from God. Anyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. We can’t just pick three words out of an entire book and build an entire ideology on top of it. This is, God is love comes after lots of judgments, distinctions. And let me say this. I mean, he makes a distinction between angels and demons, false profits and real profits, from God, not from God, the real Christ, the antichrist, the world and the kingdom and error and truth. And let me say this, love seeks the best of the beloved. The way this all started, John chapter four, the first word, remember it, beloved. Love is higher than tolerance. Love is greater than tolerance. Love is better than tolerance. Tolerance says, there’s nothing wrong with you, there’s nothing that needs to be forgiven, and there’s nothing that needs to change. Love says there is something wrong with you. There are things that need to be forgiven and you can change. Love changes a person in a way that tolerance cannot. If you love someone, you want the best for them, right. If you’re a parent, you’ve got kids, you don’t tolerate everything, you love them enough to seek their best. You don’t just say, look, I’m in no position to judge, there is no authority in this household, I don’t have any aspirations for your future. I don’t have any… I don’t have any judgment of your choices, you do whatever you want and I’ll celebrate that. No parent says, I love you. I love you so much. I’ll take you as you are but I love you too much to let you remain as you are. This is where the Bible says that God is a father. And what a father does is exercises loving authority to seek the best for the child. We live in a culture that knows nothing of God’s authority and in large part it’s because many haven’t even had a father that exercised any loving authority to seek their best. So yes, God is love, but that love does not mean tolerance that makes no value judgments. In fact, in context, it’s very clear that God loves us enough to show us what is best. The other verse that tends to come up, thou shall not judge. Most of the focus groups mentioned this. So let’s just look at it. Matthew 7. These are the words of Jesus. “Judge not, that you not be judged.” Well, let’s just keep reading. “For with the judgment you pronounce” “you will be judged with the measure you use” “it will be measured to you.” “Why do you seek the speck” “that is in your brother’s eye?” That is a little bit of saw dust. But not notice the log, that is the two by four in your own eyes. What’s He talking about? Hypocrisy. Judging everyone rather than judging yourself. We need to judge ourselves first. We need to look at our own life and examine it. And this is not happening in the world. Everyone has a moral judgment for someone else and very little self-awareness or evaluation of their own behavior. This is hypocrisy. If you’re gonna… ‘Cause I always say it this way. Right before the Bible is binoculars, it’s a mirror. Before I look at it to see what’s wrong with you I’m looking at it to see what’s wrong with me, me first. “Or how can you say to your brother, “let me take the speck out of your own eye” “when there is a log of two by four in your own eye.” You’re what? Hypocrite. This is not against all judging, this is against hypocritical judging, which is different. This is like the parent who says, don’t do as I… Do as I say, don’t do as I do. That’s hypocritical parenting. It’s like you say one thing and do another. No, should be able to say, do what I do. Do what I do because there’s consistency between what I say and do. Here the problem is they’re saying one thing doing another. He goes on to say, be aware of what? “The whole context, false prophets” “who come to you in sheep’s clothing,” “they’re wolves.” False profits are different than real prophets and wolves are different than shepherds. And the concept here is of like sheep that are vulnerable. So what is happening here? Jesus is the teacher. He is judging false teachers. You can’t take that context and say, Jesus is against judging. When he is judging false teachers, amen. I mean, do you see this? I mean, just start to look at the words. Spec versus plank, brother vs. hypocrite, false prophets versus real prophets, wolves versus shepherds. There are distinctions. There are judgments. The real teacher is judging the false teachers out of love for the people to keep them protected from false teaching. Now, oh boy I got eight minutes. I got seven points. All right, we’re gonna do this. I get paid by the slide. Just so you know, I get paid by the slide, all right. Seven differences between Christians and non-Christians. Number one, we have a different mind. You can’t think biblically unless you think binary. The world says everything is gray. And the Bible says, no, there is God and satan. There are angels and demons. There is right and wrong. There’s truth and lies. There’s life and death. There is heaven and hell. The biblical thinking is binary thinking. It is categorical thinking. We think differently. You cannot read the Bible and not come to differentiation and certain conclusions that things are opposed to one another. Number two, we have a different authority. A woman in Austin says, and I’ll just summarize. She says the problem with Christianity is that it teaches that there’s an authority beyond you. Let me just tell you, there’s an authority beyond you. If you don’t believe this, drink and drive and just see what happens. If you don’t believe this, smoke in a hospital and see what happens. We all believe this, amen. We believe in authority beyond ourselves. Now the difference is and I can see this for a non-Christian, you may not understand that the heart of God is a parental heart in the father’s heart. We lived on a very busy street when my kids were little. And the first thing that I did when we moved into the home is I had a fence built around our property because if my children wandered outside of our yard, we literally lived on literally the edge of a very busy street. What I did is I distinguished, you can be here, you can’t be there. Don’t cross this barrier, this border, this boundary, because on the other side cars are flying by and you’re gonna die. I didn’t put that there because I hated my kids. I put it there ’cause I love my kids. I didn’t put it there to restrict their freedom but to protect their life. We believe that the God of the Bible is a loving God and he’s like a parent who loves his kids. And we believe that when he makes rules and laws, it’s like planks on the fence to keep the kids safe and let them live and not put them in harms way. Number three, we have a different view of humanity. A woman in Austin says, one thing I don’t like is the Christian idea that everyone is broken and needs to be fixed. Hey, let me let you know secret. Everyone’s broken and needs to be fixed. Amen. And it’s so crazy cause people look at the whole world and say, it’s all broken. How about the people? They’re all good. Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. What? Who made the world? All the people and the people are not broken. No, they’re good. How’s the world? It’s broken and bad. Okay, just run this by again. The good people that aren’t broken, made a bad broken world. Everybody’s broken. We all need to be healed. We’re all guilty. We need to be forgiven. I’ll just tell you, our country was founded on life liberty, the pursuit of happiness. How’s it going? People aren’t happy. It’s because they’re broken and they need to be fixed. We have a different view of culture. For the non-Christian, their view of culture is that that is all that there is for reality. We don’t live culture up, we live kingdom down. Jesus said to live and pray, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. So we open the word of God and we say, you know what? All the cultures are gonna go away and the kingdom of God is gonna endure forever. And the kingdom of God, there all races, all nations, there is love, there is forgiveness. There is life. There is joy. There is generosity. There is peace. There is authority. His name is Jesus. He sits on a throne. He’s coming again and it’s gonna be awesome forever. And so what we want is what’s most loving and best for people and that’s the kingdom of God. And so we wanna live kingdom down, not culture up. We also have a difference in our view that our faith should be not just private, but public. One of the statements that continually came out was, well that’s your personal belief but you shouldn’t share it, why? Are you appealing to some authority that doesn’t exist? In addition, Jesus lived publicly. Jesus said he was God publicly. Jesus was crucified publicly. Jesus rose publicly. Therefore Jesus is not a private matter, He’s a public matter. When God came to the earth, He didn’t just come to our hearts. He walked around in the body and he revealed himself publicly. Furthermore, today Jesus is seated on a throne. He is ruling and reigning over everyone and everything. That means that everyone in everything is under his authority. That means everything is spiritual. Nothing is secular for the Christian. It is impossible for us to live as Christians and have our faith be completely private and not public. Number six. We expect what we believe to be considered foolish and offensive. I’ll give you two verses. 1 Corinthians 1:18 The cross is foolishness or folly to those… You’re like Jesus Christ is God died on a cross in your place for your sins. You’re like, that’s foolish. You’re like, that’s what they said you’d say. And you need Jesus because you’re a sinner and you need to be forgiven. It says in Galatians 5:11. The offense of the cross. Then they say that’s offensive. And they’re like, they predicted that as well. They said you’d think it was crazy and offensive. But the question is, is it true? That’s the question. It is true. How many of you the first time you heard about Christianity you thought this is crazy and I’m offended. Just see, you know, we all started there. We all started there. How many of you don’t like your doctor? ‘Cause they tell you the truth. Like you offended me. And they’re like actually you got to stop eating foods that end in itos. It’s not going to end well for you. Taquitos Fritos, Doritos. Just gonna tell you, here’s reality. Step on the scale. I don’t believe in numbers. They’re relative. No I’m telling you Jack, you got a situation, right. You can’t get stuff out of your pockets without taking your pants off. You gotta rethink your lifestyle. You gotta rethink your lifestyle, okay. Number seven. We’re putting the fun back at fundamentalists. That’s the whole point of the series. Okay, number seven. We have different views of love. So I’m gonna quote an atheist. I’m gonna agree with an atheist. His name is a pendulate. He is a… You’ve heard of Penn and Teller. He’s an illusionist, magician, entertainer. He’s a devout vocal atheist. He says, after one of his shows, a businessman came up and gave him a Bible. And the guy says, I wanted you to have this. I’m a businessman. I’m saying I’m not crazy. He says, the man was likely knew. He was probably talking to resolute atheist, but he was neither aggressive nor defensive, loving. Gillette says, I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. That’s evangelize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not going to eternal life or whatever you believe, And you think that, well then it’s really not worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, how much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize? This is the atheist. How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? Gillette concludes this guy was a good guy, polite and honest and sane and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible. A recent study says that 47% of millennial Christians believe that evangelism or proselytizing is at least in part immoral. I agree with the atheist. Heaven, hell. And if I don’t tell you that, ’cause it would be awkward, let me tell you when you die, it’s going to be awkward. I would rather endure a little of awkwardness between us now than an eternal awkwardness between you and Him forever. Now let me maybe close with this. I say maybe because I make no promises, okay. God is not tolerant but He’s patient, right. That’s why we’re still alive, amen. If any of us were God looking at the planet how many of us would have said, time to strike the match? Okay, I’m done with this. God’s patience. The most quoted verse in the whole Bible is Exodus 34. God tells us who He is. The Lord, the Lord, a God. What? Merciful. How many of you have experienced this. Gracious, I have slow to anger. Long wake and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. That’s the God of the Bible. That didn’t sound oppressive, that sounds helpful. And keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving inequity. He’ll forgive people who are guilty and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty. What it says is God is not tolerant, He’s patient. He’s loving. He’s kind. What He’s saying is I’m waiting for you. I’m working on you. Peter says it this way. The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise that some people think. Some people they go, God is indifferent. He must not care. No, He’s patient. He’s not indifferent. No He is being patient. You ever love somebody? You’re patient with them. Even though they’re harming themselves and self-destructing and making a mess, you don’t agree with them, but you’re patient. You’re hanging in there ’cause you love them, trying to help. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but he wants everyone to repent. Let me just close with this. The greatest virtue in the culture is tolerance. The greatest virtue in the Bible is repentance. You have to choose one. You have to choose one. Tolerance is there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing to be forgiven. There’s nothing that needs to change. Repentance says, there’s something wrong with you. You need to be forgiven. Some things need to change. Really, it comes down to tolerance versus repentance. If this world has a religion, its highest value is tolerance. According to the Bible, the highest value is repentance. Let me just tell you a little bit about my story. I thought I was a good person. I know that’s shocking. That’s how deceived I was. I believed in some sort of God and I was moral. No drugs, no alcohol, most likely succeed. Student body president, four year letterman, man of the year, captain of the baseball team. I’m a teenager. My life is working. Everything is good. I’m a good person. I believe in God, okay. People start talking to me about Jesus. Wanna take me to church? I’m dechurched, I went when I was a kid. I don’t need to go to church anymore. Churches are like a hospital. If you get hurt, you go there but if you don’t get hurt, just keep going. So I meet Grace and she gives me a Bible. I didn’t read it for a while. Said, I probably know what’s in there. I started reading it. And the first thing it did, it offended me. It said I was proud. It says that I was independent. It said that I was wrong. It said that my morality and my behaviors needed to be subjected to a higher authority. And so at first I was like urgh, this is way different than I expected. And I think it’s wrong. This is an old book. It’s a very old book. And we’ve evolved. We’ve evolved. And the more I read this book, the more it picked a fight with me. The more it caused consternation for me. And then I came to the conclusion, I am a sinner. Not only have I broken God’s laws, I don’t even keep my own laws. I make rules and I break my own rules. So, I’m a double hypocrite. And then I started looking, Jesus really did live. He really did die. Really did say He was God. He really did rise from death. That’s a historical fact. And what I had to come to grips with was that there was something wrong with me. I was a sinner. That actually needed to be forgiven and that I needed to change. In fact, I don’t think I’m better than anyone. In fact, the closer I get to Jesus the more sure that there is something wrong with me, right? How many of you have had that experience? You’re like, I thought I was a good person to go hung out with Jesus and that cured it. But what Grace did for me is she loved me enough to risk the social awkwardness of the relationship and to give me a Bible and to force me to deal with the word of God. This is where I invite you to acknowledge, I’m a sinner, I need a savior. I’m willing to change. I don’t want God to just have a parade for me. I wanna repent and join his parade, that ends in eternal life. You need to know that there’s a God who made you. You need to know that there’s a God who loves you there. You need to know that there’s a God that you’ve offended. You need to know that there is a God who has come to forgive you. You need to know that is a God who has paid the ultimate price so that he could forgive you and have a relationship with you. You need to know that if you don’t know the Lord, Jesus Christ, when you die, there will be an eternal consequence that will be incredibly painful. But absolutely just if you don’t receive the free gift of salvation that is given through the Lord Jesus Christ Just flush all the cultural nonsense. It comes down to you and Jesus. Do you want him to tolerate you or do you want to repent and trust him. At this point, we’re gonna give you that opportunity. This is the most important decision you will ever make. We’re gonna collect our tithes and offerings. If you are a visitor and you wanna give us your information we’ll pray for you, we’ll call you, we’ll do anything we can to serve you. As the ushers come forward and the band come forward, we’re gonna sing and celebrate as well, amen. And as Christians, this is part of our worship. People celebrate lots of things. We celebrate the person and work of Jesus. We do that through singing of song, through giving of tithes and offerings. We also do this through partaking of communion, remembering, Jesus’ broken body and shed blood on the cross in our place for our sins. Historical fact, the only way to be forgiven is by turning from sin and trusting in him. And that repentance, it’s a change of mind. I think differently. It’s a change of heart. I feel differently. It’s a change of morality. I behave differently. And so I would just encourage you to make that most important decision to start your relationship with Jesus. To pick up the word of God. To examine your own life. It really comes down to you and Jesus. For those of you who are Christians we’re gonna invite you to partake in communion and to join us in song, amen. And here’s what I wanna close with. God is loving, that’s awesome. God is merciful, that’s amazing. God is gracious, that is encouraging. God is forgiving, amen. And God is willing to embrace and have a relationship, and as we sing, we’re celebrating that goodness. So Lord God, as we come to worship, help us to fix our eyes on Jesus. In His name and we pray, amen.

Mark Driscoll
hello@markdriscoll.org

It's all about Jesus! Read More