Revelation 2:2-5 (NLT)
2 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. 4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
The apostle John writes according to God’s command about the current state of the church of Ephesus. There are commendations given for the good work they have done and then a rebuke for those areas they have neglected, fallen short in or have turned away from. Ephesus did not tolerate evil and they closely examined the claims of those who tried to say they were apostles of Christ, but were not. The rebuke to the church was their falling away from Christ and the values they had in the beginning of their relationship with Christ. They were beseeched to repent and return back to their love for Christ.
The book of revelation revealed the church of Ephesus had not tolerated evil people. They had no tolerance for those who performed evil against God’s word. In the world we live in today there is a continual push for tolerance. There are organizations which promote teaching tolerance. The apologist Josh McDowell realized how engrained tolerance was in our education system when he asked his son, a senior in high school, what absolute truth he had learned. The response from his son was “tolerance”. Tolerance is being preached in the school, in the media, and from our government officials. Tolerance meant to simply recognize and respect others beliefs or practices without the necessity of agreeing with them. Today the definition of tolerance leans more towards not only does everyone have a right to their beliefs, but their beliefs are equal in value to all other beliefs. The apostle Peter told us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” There is a difference between extending God’s love to others and tolerating every new belief to the point of acceptance. The Church of Ephesus did not tolerate evil in it’s beginning, but it had started to slip towards the tolerance of acceptance. Tolerance says I must approve of what you do; love says I will do something more difficult by loving you even when you behavior offends me. Tolerance says, you must allow me to have my way; while love says I will do something that is harder and plead with you to follow what is right because I think you are worth it. Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks to the point of being offensive. Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Are you a person who loves or a person who tolerates?