Sugarcoating Truth in the Age of Tolerance
This devotional was written by Leslie Snyder
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Sugar. Everyone loves it and most people crave it. (I’m dreaming of a warm chocolate chip cookie right now!) Most of us have probably heard the line in a wonderful song in the movie, Mary Poppins, “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” Mary Poppins was on to something and I like her style. In fact the term “sugarcoating” has come to mean giving someone bad news in a way that seems sweet. However, there are obviously times when truth is told that it doesn’t “go down” easily, sugarcoated or not.
Some people find the words of Jesus, noted above, to be the single most offensive words ever spoken. His words seem far too exclusive for our world’s refined sensibilities in this age of tolerance. In our times, tolerance is defined as the notion of accepting all ideas with equal legitimacy and value. Today, tolerance is highly esteemed (and dare I suggest almost worshiped). It is popular to believe that truth is whatever you believe it to be (we hear phrases today like “your truth” and “my truth”). It seems that we have lost much of the concept of universal truth – truth that applies to all people at all times in all places. Tolerance has replaced truth as the highest virtue. Today, it is claimed to be the highest form of arrogance and intolerance to assert “my way is the only way”.
Tolerance is here to stay. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, truth, as defined by the Scriptures, must also be here to stay. There is a careful line to walk here. As followers of Jesus Christ we must never water down the gospel or Christ’s teachings. But, when we address issues like Jesus being the “only way” with others, we must do so humbly and remain sensitive towards others, granting them the freedom of choice to believe otherwise. You might call this “sugarcoating” in the best sense of the term – by staying faithful to the truth while not using it as a battering ram. Remember, when Jesus commands us to “Love our neighbor as ourselves” he calls us to treat each person with the highest degree of respect, even when we disagree – which has been the historical definition of tolerance until recent years. Not everyone appreciates the truth. Not everyone will accept Jesus’ words – or ours. Jesus knew that. In fact, it’s recorded in John 15:18 that Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
The journey we have chosen to believe in Jesus and to follow Him will not always be popular and will likely never reflect the majority view of our culture. Choose today to stand firm in your faith. Love Jesus, love others and pray for the opportunity to invite another along on this fantastic journey of faith.
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1. How open are you when in conversation with someone of a different faith? Do you listen to them with respect or condemnation?
2. In what ways have you watered down the words of Jesus when talking with someone else? Be willing to make an honest evaluation of how you represent Jesus.
John 14:1- 31, Luke 10:27
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