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Colossian Blog
March 16, 2016 | Jennifer Vander Molen

Listening–It’s More than Just Tolerance

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TCF’s Rob Barrett recently kicked off the series How to Stay in Conversation with “the Other Side” at the Do Justice blog. The series aims to help how to communicate about contentious issues in ways that build up the body of Christ, and we were thrilled to contribute to this important conversation.

Listening to Christian brothers and sisters certainly helps us understand where they’re coming from. Often we even start to sympathize with them. But what do we do after we start to understand someone we disagree with?

Many suggest that tolerance should be our goal. Difference is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but we allow space for others to chart their own course. Tolerance preaches agreeing to disagree, leaving each other alone.

But we at The Colossian Forum believe that Christians are called to something much better—and more difficult—than tolerance. We belong to Christ and to each other. We share a common life, which Paul likens to a body (1 Corinthians 12). Many of our differences are intentionally given to us by the Holy Spirit so that we can build up Christ’s body (vv. 7, 11). Our differences aren’t inconveniences to be tolerated, but gifts for our overall good. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’” (v. 21). The eye doesn’t tolerate the hand. It loves and serves it.

But eyes think differently from hands. A healthy body coordinates its members across differences. We must listen to work together.

Thanks to our friends at the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice + Christian Reformed Centre of Public Dialogue for hosting us on the Do Justice blog!

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