lent 2013 001bBe tolerant  with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.

(Colossians chapter 3 verse 13, GNB)

I am tolerant, you compromise, they do not stick to their principles.

The other week I joined a brief discussion on bigotry. We didn’t really get anywhere because it seems that  bigotry is “in the eye of the beholder”. When someone stubbornly refuses to accept your point of view on an important topic, it is tempting to call them a “bigot”. It is usually applied to someone who is taking a “conservative/traditionalist” position. However, this assumes that revolutionary ideas are always better, that progress is the same as improvement and that movement is always onward and upward. That is not always so, as any glance at, say, a political dictatorship will tell you. To be sure, a conservative might be trying to preserve their privileges, but a conservative can be someone who is protecting something or someone vulnerable. In fact, during our discussion, it was observed that the best way to avoid the accusation of bigotry was to get in first and accuse the opposing side of it. You see, if you still stick to your guns your steadfastness/stubbornness simply reinforces the label the opposition has pinned on you.

That is no way to conduct a discussion among Christians. We are bound to disagree over something – and the more important the issue, the more likely we are to argue about it, whether it is the definition of marriage, government social policy, helping the poor, making a just society, protecting life and the rights of the more vulnerable members of our society. And because the Spirit’s work of making us holy is not yet complete, we do hurt each other from time to time. Scriptural advice is not pie in the sky. We do need to say “sorry” from time to time and to forgive each other.

To be sure, there are crimes that are not easily forgiven, and part of God’s economy is to see that justice is done – we are not being asked to say “It’s all right” when in fact it is not. What we are being asked to do, is to be in the habit of saying “It’s all right” when it is.

A prayer from “Common Worship”

Merciful Lord, you know our struggle to serve you. When sin spoils our lives and overshadows our hearts, come to our aid and turn us back to you again; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Additional Collect, Lent 4)