Tolerance and the ass


In a previous post I wrote about how love is the only commandment and often what we perceive as "love" could be better termed as "affection". This love that is the greatest commandment is not affection, it is tolerance, and not just tolerance, it is massive tolerance.

The Pharisees considered tolerance to be averse to the ways of God but God is all mercy and tolerance.  When speaking to a group of self-righteous Pharisees; lovers of the law; Jesus said, 

"(Love) is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."   

He was speaking here to Jews, telling them if they truly wanted to follow the law, they needed to obey this one command, to love, and another command just like it. Love for neighbors. That’s it. Love. Fulfill that one commandment, and its mirror image, and you will have fulfilled them all.

When Jesus was asked later to define "who is a neighbor" he told the story of a man, assumed here to be a Jew, who was robbed of all, including his clothes, then beaten and left for dead. This man was first passed up by a priest, then a Levite, the religious men of his day, but was ignored and shunned by both. The man who eventually showed him love and tolerance was a Samaritan man and this Samaritan is a man who would have been considered unworthy to even enter the temple by this Jew yet he was this Jew's "neighbor". The others who passed by were too busy in their religious pursuits to take time to help this man but it is this "unrighteous" Samaritan, a man not considered to be of the proper Jewish faith, considered an “infidel”, who cared for this "righteous" Jew delicately, without prejudice, and met all of his needs out of his own pocket. 

Showing compassion and mercy to all, no matter their lot in life, or religious views, is how we love our neighbor. These two men, with discordant cultures and beliefs were in fact…neighbors. That seems a simple, yet difficult, concept for mankind to grasp. 

Churches like the ABC are schools of Pharisaical thinking and are not places that teach the love and tolerance Jesus spoke about in the parables. Churches like the ABC look to confine, enslave, then control others through rote learning and without love. They are not places that tolerate anything outside what is perceived by the leaders to be “accepted doctrine”.  I believe the Corinthians were caught up in this same net. Paul wrote to them and gave them a distinct, almost poetic, list of the pieces of love.

Love is patient

Love is kind.

Love does not envy

Love does not boast

Love is not proud.

Love does not dishonor others

Love is not self-seeking

Love is not easily angered

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects

Love always trusts

Love always hopes

Love always perseveres

I lay no claim to being perfect in all things on this list. Neither does anyone else on this earth. It is something we strive for but likely will not ever fulfill in our short span of life. 

The commandment to love our neighbor, as if they were ourselves, is where churches, such as the ABC, are severely deficient. They are blinded to their own reality by the pride of knowledge. Many will take offense at my words, and defend the status quo, but that’s just the nature of man. We don’t like to feel we have been wrong because it makes our history seem worth less. Repentance is the first layer of our foundation and repentance is a difficult thing if we are lifted up with the pride of knowledge. 

It is widely taught Repentance is metaneo, change our mind. That is accurate, but some miss the meaning of the other half of that statement; “from dead works”. The Pharisees sought God through their actions, their works, their much study, long prayers in the streets and their synagogues. They loved to be seen of men as more righteous through their religious actions. God ignores our actions, sees our heart and asks; Is it full of love? Do we tolerate our neighbor who will likely never see eye to eye with us? This is what love is. Those who saw this man beaten and bloodied by robbers, and just walked on by, were exhibiting hate, even though they did not think they hated in their heart. Hate and pride are brothers.

In an effort to seek and please God churches, such as the ABC, seek to be seen through their feasts, studies, charts, graphs, head coverings, long prayers to be seen of men, meetings and then even more studies in a vain attempt to be "closer to God". It's a long list. They saddle themselves with burdens, then seek to afflict others with these same heavy burdens. When the burden does not wear well, and becomes too heavy, they then blame the ass rather than the load. 

We think the story of Balaam is about how he did not discern he was going the wrong direction, or how he did not see the angel standing in the way, but the story of Balaam is really about how he failed love and wished his ass dead. When he wished the ass dead, the ass then spoke up to him and said essentially, “Have I ever wanted you dead? Even though it is you who have burdened me all these years and not I who has burdened you?” Blaming the ass did not work well for Balaam, and it doesn’t work well for us either.

Churches, such as the ABC, must examine love to learn it's truth. Fulfill the one commandment of loving your brother, and its mirror image, to love your neighbor as if it were you in a mirror. We must love the one who is our polar opposite to fulfill all the commandments. Serve God and keep his commandment(s), this is the entire duty of man. Much study is a weariness to the flesh. These are simple concepts that make the burden light, yet many find that simplicity challenging and so begin to lay more load on themselves and others. By doing so we seek our own righteousness, just like the Pharisees, instead of the simplicity that is in Christ. We begin to inflict the ass, wishing it harm, rather than reflect on ourselves and the load we have laid that has caused the excess burden.



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