God is holy. God does not tolerate evil and wickedness. What is my job when I encounter evil and wickedness? I must proclaim the good news of Jesus and ask others to change their mind (aka repent) and act differently. God’s standards are clear. God will be the judge. I am the messenger.
I must hold fast to the Truth while showing compassion to those who question it. Like Jesus, I must be full of both grace and truth. Peter strikes a good balance between having the answer and having humility:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15).
There is much controversy in our culture today surrounding followers of Jesus who own businesses being forced to photograph gay engagements, bake cakes or provide flowers for gay weddings, or rent rooms to gay couples. Some bakers have refused to provide service for homosexual weddings, incurring lawsuits, media invective, and the world’s ire. Other disciples see no problem with providing service to gay weddings. There’s no way to make a blanket statement on this issue that would apply to all believers in all situations.
Here is one general principle: the only way the unbelieving world will hear the good news is if the disciples live it and proclaim it “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
Totally avoiding everyone who lives in sin would require us to leave the world. We live in a fallen world, and we cannot avoid contact with the fallen without moving to Mars — and then we’d still have ourselves to deal with!
We can’t be salt and light unless we engage the world. Light must shine into darkness in order to be meaningful — light that doesn’t shine isn’t really “light”; and salt must get into the food in order change the flavor — salt does no one any good in the saltshaker.
How tolerant of other believers should I be? Even when disputing/dialoguing over prominent doctrines, a disciple of Jesus should exercise restraint and show respect. It is one thing to disagree with a position; it is quite another to disparage a person.
- Habakkuk 1:13 (NASB) — 13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?
- Revelation 2:2 — 2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false.