By Darlene Melcher

Tolerance. It seems to be the catch-phrase of our generation. By some standards you’d be better to be found as an adulterous, embezzling drug-addict than intolerant. A few years ago I was having a discussion with a friend about religion. Coming from an eclectic background, she was sifting though all the choices available and was leaning towards an eastern religion. Being a Christian, naturally I asked, “Have you considered Jesus and Christianity?”

“Well,” she replied, “It’s too intolerant.”

“Hmm,” I sipped my chai tea, “In the religion you are considering, how do you get to heaven or its comparison?”

She explained karma and the idea of how a person could be reincarnated until they have lived a good enough life to qualify for moving on.

“So, you only get to ‘heaven’ if you have enough good karma? Whew! I’m glad I don’t have to measure up to those standards.” Her quizzical expression bid me to explain. “Well, in that religion, you are granted rest for your soul only once you have lived a good enough life- which is undeterminable. But with Jesus, even thieves, murdered and liars are granted rest for their souls. No one is too bad for God to forgive, when they believe that Jesus paid for their way into God’s presence. Seems to me that Jesus is more tolerant.”

What is tolerance anyway? Besides the familiar part about respecting the opinions of others, the definition continues, “to endure, to suffer.” These words bring a poignant scene to my mind. An execution. Crowds gather to watch the three men die of suffocation. Two are thieves, punished for their crimes. But the third, the one in the middle, he is a mystery. Some say he is a madman, some say a blasphemous liar, but others think he is something more: a savior, THE Savior. Even as the guards hurl verbal abuse and spit on His bleeding body, Jesus endures. He asks His Father to forgive them even as He is suffering and dying (Luke 23:39-43).

Of what is Jesus intolerant? In Matthew 10:14-15, He says that it will be more tolerable for a perverse, evil, depraved city of people than for those who simply reject Him. He has more tolerance for vile offenders who understand that they cannot be good enough, than for those who reject His compassion and mercy and try to hold onto their flimsy and tattered “goodness” as a means of worthiness.

In Jesus all have the same chance for being in Paradise. Now that is tolerance. Of course, that tolerance came at a precious price: His own death as a substitute for our. How good is good enough to be granted intimacy with the perfect, all powerful Creator of everything? If you are like me, you are well aware of the selfish and rebellious nature that keeps us making bad choices and hurting others and ourselves. If you are tired of playing Press Your Luck with your eternal destination, I’ll ask you as I asked my friend:

Have you considered Jesus?