This past month has been an interesting month for me. Since I’ve only had to preach 1 message at 4 different churches, I’ve been able to take my study and writing time and do a lot more praying and thinking about the mission field God has placed me in here in Santa Cruz. As I’ve done some of my prayer walks at different places in Santa Cruz I’ve asked God for insight into the community where I live and one of the things God brought to my attention is tolerance.
Before I say another word, I must say the obvious – that tolerance is 100 times better than intolerance and all of the “isms” that go with intolerance. Tolerance is certainly an advancement in the human condition when the alternative is injustice and intolerance. However, having said all of this I want to also observe that tolerance cannot be considered fully evolved true community – it cannot be considered the “end game” for human connection in a community. As I looked around at my community, I see a highly evolved level of tolerance for everyone’s styles, beliefs, politics, etc, but it is a tolerance that is deeply limited. Tolerance in Santa Cruz has created a “don’t ask – don’t tell” community where we don’t have conversations and engagement in the things that might divide us over the ideals, beliefs and lifestyles we don’t like or understand in one another. I would like to propose that real community moves beyond the “don’t ask – don’t tell” tolerance and begins entering into hard conversations that seeks to understand one another even when it’s possible we may never actually arrive at the point where we can agree with one another. Obviously what I’m describing seems impossible (although it is not – it just takes a lot of sacrifice and work) and therefore the vast majority of Santa Cruzans would rather land the plane at tolerance and call it “community.” Almost every member or group making up Santa Cruz is tolerant (again, let me make it clear that this is much better than intolerance for one another), but precious few are making the sacrifice and investing the effort to move beyond “don’t ask – don’t tell” to actually ask and then tell their own story.
Frankly the only people who can be expected to actually do what I’m describing are the followers of Jesus who have been taught to do this exact thing, and yet many followers of Jesus in this city are the biggest instigators of safe-distance “don’t ask – don’t tell” tolerance rather than loving engagement . . . Lord help me, and help all of us believers build true community here in “Holy Cross.”