Practice vs preach toleranceI told my friend that “I didn’t leave because of a difference of opinion, I left because of a difference of character.” She had sent me a note to say she missed seeing me in a community we both belonged too and to ask how things had been going with me. She saw the conversation that took place and resulted in me leaving. I think the whole community probably did. It was a doozy!

Let me explain a bit about what happened:

There was an opinion shared by a community member and several of the other members chimed in and said they agreed with her. I disagreed with the opinion and said so. In the past, difference of opinions in this particular community has led to some lively debate about why we felt the way we did and ended on a very respectful note of agreeing to disagree. How I hoped this would be another one of those instances! Unfortunately, it was not to be.

I was instantly attacked. Insulted. Belittled. Misjudged. The whole nine yards.

The irony of the situation was that this whole discussion was over accepting differences between people, and about showing tolerance and love. The popular opinion said that you had to agree with something in order to be viewed as societally correct or accepted, or treated with any sort of dignity. I, on the other hand, believe that agreeing about the matter at hand is irrelevant. I believe that, even if you disagree with someone, they still deserve to be treated with respect and responded to in love.

While several people in this community were preaching to me about how I should tolerate and love everyone, they chose not to practice it.

I’m sharing this to remind you (and myself) that there will be times when our belief system will be tested. Words are only as good as the actions we follow them up with.

James 2:18 reminds us of this:

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James also tells us, in chpt 1:2-3:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

This was certainly a trial and I can tell you that I did not consider going through it pure joy. It was hard to be treated in such a way by people who I thought were my friends. The feelings of joy were a little slow in coming. I found joy later in the fact that a few other community members told me that they disagreed with the way I was treated an were ashamed on behalf of the community. I appreciated their support. I have also felt a weight lifted from my shoulders because leaving this community has allowed me the time to step into different communities and move into new roles that God is calling me to fulfill.

In the meantime, I will choose to follow God’s Word, in spite of the fact that it is no longer viewed as politically correct.

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