SINCE there will always be differences in opinions, behaviour, customs and beliefs among men owing to imperfection, they can only live together in peace where there is tolerance. In Christianity tolerance is not a mark of weakness; rather it is an evidence of spiritual maturity. It is a virtue. True Christians are therefore required to be tolerant both among themselves and in their dealings with others but without compromising the faith.
Tolerance is the character of being patient and uncomplaining in spite of provocation, or the quality of tolerating opinions, beliefs, customs, behaviour and so on, that are different from one’s own.
In a country like Nigeria where there are different tribes and various religions, and where people are divided in their beliefs the need for tolerance cannot be over-stated.
What will make the people continue to live together in peace and tranquility irrespective of tribal, religious or political differences is TOLERANCE. This does not rule out the principle of condemning or exposing what is wrong or evil. But to resort to violence or incite hostilities against anybody or say section of the community on the grounds of religious beliefs or tribal hate or such like is ungodly and wicked.
The Universal declaration of Human Rights issued by the united Nation in 1948, has been acclaimed as “the most widely accepted and the most inspiring of all the declarations of rights in history”. This is because it aims at a moral revolution and encourages the spirit of brotherhood which, without tolerance, cannot be sustained.
All Christians have much to learn from Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares. (Matt. 13: 24-30). Though the master knew that the tares which grew among the wheat were bad being the handwork of an enemy, he restrained has servants from uprooting them, He said, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Verse 30)
In explaining the parable Jesus Christ said: “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”—Verses 37-43.
What is certain is that all false religious institutions and wicked people that are the instruments of the devil will certainly be destroyed. But no man is empowered to carry out physically the destruction work. Rather, it is God Himself through Jesus Christ and his angels Who will take vengeance on them and destroy them in this age of the end of the world. Until then, they must exit; they must be tolerated.
Concerning religious misleaders Jesus Christ said: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”—Matt. 15: 13, 14.
The injunction of “let both grow together” carries with it the principle of tolerance. Everyone should be left to practise his faith or beliefs according to his conviction and the dictate of his conscience provided he does so without damage to lives or property of others or without indulging in or encouraging criminal acts.
Notwithstanding, if anyone considers the faith or beliefs of another to be wrong or false, he has the freedom to spotlight such errors or falsehood in a fair and constructive criticism in accordance with the Scriptures. The purpose of this exercise of criticism is either to retrieve the stray sheep of God from the errors of his ways or to prevent others from becoming victims of deceit.
Said James the apostle: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”—James 5: 19, 20.
What is more, St. Paul declared: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, FOR REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly (thoroughly) furnished unto all good works.”—1 Tim. 3: 16, 17.
There are people who are easily irritated when others express opinions that are different from their own. They do not want to listen to the views of others notwithstanding the reasonableness of such views. Their lack of tolerance often makes them remain in their ignorance; they behave fanatically and often cause or brew troubles.
In matters of religion—the Christian Religion—it is dangerous to stick to one’s own opinion or beliefs without considering those of others in the light of the Scriptures. You might have been brought up to accept a false doctrine without knowing that your belief is based on error.
And so if you are intolerant of the views of others, you will ever be blind to the truth, and will not be saved.
Said King Solomon: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”—Prov. 16: 25
The Pharisees, because of their conceit and self-righteous attitude, were intolerant of the teachings of Jesus Christ. For holding fanatically to their own beliefs they were unable to see the light of salvation of which Christ Jesus was the very embodiment, and so they could not repent of their sins.
Thus it is written: “And Jesus said, for judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; there-fore your sin remaineth.”—John (: 39-41.
In spite of the fact that men by words and deeds often offend God He bears with them and still wants them to reason together with Him. As it is written: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool…”—Isa. 1: 18, 19.
This reasoning together is by way of considering soberly the words of God brought to mankind through Jesus Christ, his apostles and the ancient prophets as contained in the Holy Bible. It affords men the opportunity to see the evils of their ways so as to repent and turn to their Creator Whose love and mercies are everlasting.
Those who fail to appreciate the patience and forbearance with which God deals with men and abuse the opportunity given them to reason and repent of their sins by resisting or opposing the truth of God’s word are guilty of rebellion. And the Scripture says they will be destroyed in the end.—Isa. 1: 20; Rom. 2: 8, 0; 2 Thess. 2: 8-12.
Some men, because of the advantage of their positions, power, wealth or knowledge, do not tolerate the wrongs of other. They are often inclined to take vengeance in order to show to others the amount of influence or power they can wield. This is most uncharitable.
Men should learn from the tolerance of God, and be patient in dealing with their fellow men. The law of love brought by Jesus Christ calls for tolerance. He advised his disciples not to set themselves against any man who wrongs them. He said : “Ye have heard that it had been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also… Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hat thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust… Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”—Matt. 5: 38-48.
Jesus Christ rebuked two of his apostles—James and John—for suggesting that he should take a revenge against the Samaritans for refusing to receive him. It is stated that when he was determined to go to Jerusalem he sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to make arrangements for him. But the villagers did not welcome him. When James and John saw this, they said: “Lord wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” “But he (Jesus) turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. FOR THE SON OF MAN IS NOT COME TO DESTROY MENS’ LIVES, BUT TO SAVE THEM.”—Read Luke 9: 51-56.
Writing about charity or love, St. Paul stated: “Charity suffereth long, and is king; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil… Beareth all things, endureth all things.”—1 Cor. 13: 4-7.
Whoever, is imbued with charity or Christian love is bound to be tolerant. All Christians are admonished to be humble, gentle and patient, “forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”—See. Eph. 4: 1, 2; Col. 3: 12, 13 and 1 Thess. 5: 14, 15.
The GKS believes strongly in “live and let live” and in peace and harmony among people; so we believe it is too with other right-thinking people of goodwill. Mischievous fellows who cry wolf when there is none and who incite people into causing trouble should be checked for the overall good of the citizenry of this Republic.