If “April showers bring May flowers,” then we have arrived at a wonderful time of the year. Warm temperatures, sunny skies and everything around us is growing, blooming and turning green. It is a sign of health and vitality. This is a season of life which we all enjoy and strive for.
However, unlike nature, our lives do not automatically return to this season of life. We all crave growth and vitality, and yet we often neglect and sabotage the very thing we want. In the church, we say we want growth and vitality, and often we only get opinions, preferences and complaints about change. We want everyone’s needs to be met without anything affecting us and our lifestyles.
In other words, we want growth without growing together. We want the best of everything without us giving our best to God and others. We often want to talk about our belief in God rather than our growth in God. Why? Because growing together demands cultivation, investment and nurture which, quite frankly, we aren’t interested in. Real growth means we grow together for God’s glory and the benefit of His kingdom, not ours.
Of course, we see these attributes in daily life and our community as well. I like to call this the “intolerant tolerance.” Tolerance used to mean understanding, dialogue and a pursuit of a better way to live. Now we see “intolerant tolerance” sprouting up everywhere. “Intolerant tolerance” is the idea that our expanding thoughts, agendas and beliefs should be celebrated and no one has a right to oppose them. Instead of coming together, we are dividing ourselves and driving one another apart.
When does this happen? When we are impatient and rude to others because we have to wait in line, instead of being grateful we can get what we need. When we complain about city officials and yet choose not to serve and volunteer to make our community better. When we attack and vilify others’ ideas, but we offer no solutions to the problems ourselves.
It is time to reject and avoid “intolerant tolerance” and embrace growing together. We need to demand the best from ourselves, our spiritual lives, our churches and our community. We must grow as persons, we must grow in our faith and in our actions toward one another. It is time to live for God’s glory and not our glory. It is time to grow together!
The Rev. David A. Carter is the lead pastor at New Beginnings Methodist Church in Delaware.