Friday, September 10, 2010

Compassion, Peace, Tolerance

That's what, on this morning's news, a pastor in Florida said Jesus was about.  This was in reaction to Pastor Terry Jones and his apparently "intolerant" plan to burn the Quran Saturday.

Now, I am not a fan of Jones.  I think he is way over the edge and that burning the Quran is a unbiblical idea. But what about Jesus?  Was he all about peace? He did say that he came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34).  Was he about tolerance?  It doesn't sound like it when he spoke of those who do not believe in the Son standing condemned (John 3:18).

This popular conception of Jesus expressed by the Florida pastor, which a brief search on the Internet will reveal to be widespread, is simply inaccurate if not fatal.  Compassion, yes, Jesus was compassionate. But peace? Peace with God for those who would come in humility and repentance, yes. But peace in the world or with the world. No.

From the beginning, the world hated Jesus. And Jesus told his disciples the world would hate them too. Why? Because Jesus reveals in the cold light of his holy character as well as his words that we all are sinners.  As he said in John 3, "men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil."

Peace? No.  Not the kind of peace the world means, peace at the cost of truth.

So what about the Quran? Pastor Jones is right.  That book and religion has not brought men closer to God. It has replaced the God of the Bible with a false god.  That's the plain and simple of it. Mohamed created an alternate way.  And it is a way that leads to hell.

That does not mean our response should be to burn the book.  Our response ought to be to proclaim God's mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Our response ought to be to pray for those who are bound in darkness.  Our response ought to be to love them, to love them to Jesus.

As for tolerance, that is the PC watchword of the day.  It implies that there is no truth that matters.  It leads just as surely to hell as preaching a false peace. It is the exact opposite of compassion. Compassion reaches out to the lost because they are desperately lost and hell bound.  Tolerance says let them be.  Jesus was not tolerant. If he had been he would not have come to us and died to save us.

Can you imagine Jesus saying of us,  "They're okay.  They're doing the best they can.  God will overlook their sin." I can not.  

There is only one way to God. It is Jesus. It might sound intolerant, but it is the most compassion thing we can say because it is every man's only hope.