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September 23, 2021

Doug Creamer column: Faith and intolerance

By Doug Creamer

I am a weather fanatic. For the last couple of days I have been watching the model updates on Hurricane Ida. Every model predicts a different scenario of strength, size, impacts and paths. I am completely fascinated and can spend hours on the internet watching storms. Most of you know that my biggest fascination is with winter storms.

The amazing thing to me has been how similar the models were running for this storm. Normally, three-to-five-day forecasts change wildly as the storm approaches. This one stayed focused and veered very little off the track. I rarely watch weather on TV anymore. There is so much information available to weather nuts like me that I go straight to the sources.

In following the sources of weather information, I make my own deductions on what I think will happen. If storms, like Hurricane Ida, are not directly impacting my area, I tend to keep my thoughts to myself. If weather, especially winter weather, is coming our way, you can be sure I am not only watching but putting my thoughts out there, too. One friend thinks that my forecasts are more accurate than local weathermen. I think his opinion is a little high of my abilities. But sometimes my “guesses” are just as good as the local weathermen.

Local government officials warned people to get out of the way of Hurricane Ida. That’s their job. Government officials’ jobs are to keep the public as safe as they can in whatever situation the people they govern are facing. They have to make the wisest and best decisions. My prayer is that God will raise up Daniels and Esthers to give government leaders godly advice. The trouble, we can all see from scripture, is that they don’t always follow godly wisdom.

You and I are no different than government leaders. We need wisdom from heaven as we make daily choices that affect our families. My father-in-law, who lives near the coast of Virginia, said that if a hurricane’s winds were less than 100 mph, he would stay home. If it reached over 110 mph, he was getting out. He did exactly that for the hurricanes that hit his area. He had lived through some hurricanes as a kid and knew his limits.

Faith plays a very important part of wisdom in our lives. I have some friends who occasionally enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with their meals. Notice I didn’t say they drink to excess. For them, their faith allows it. I have other friends whose parents were alcoholics and they don’t think you should allow any alcohol in your body, even communion wine. Their personal experiences have affected their faith.

Is either of my friends wrong? I don’t think so. What I believe could be wrong is if one of my friends became intolerant of the other. If those who didn’t drink condemned those who did, that would be wrong. If those who did drink were insensitive and drank alcohol in front of those who are opposed to alcohol, that would be wrong. We have to allow room for different beliefs and different levels of faith.

These very same principles apply to what we are facing as a country and the world relating to COVID. We have become very strongly polarized as a nation regarding the vaccinations and masking. We have to stop and ask; what would Jesus do? He would pray and ask his father what he should do.

I believe God would tell Jesus to honor and respect people. If he came to my house and we were wearing masks, he would honor us and put one on. If he came to your house and you were comfortable without a mask, he would not stand up in any public forum and condemn you because you had a different viewpoint. Yet this is exactly what we see happening among fellow believers.

To be honest with you, I don’t believe Jesus would be very proud of people who are behaving intolerantly towards others. I want to encourage you to be careful what you say publicly regarding masking and vaccinations. Jesus is listening. I realize as Christians that we must speak out against sin, but even then we need to extend grace and mercy, because I don’t know about you, but I need plenty of it myself. Let’s speak God’s language towards each other which is always filled with love, acceptance, joy and peace.

Doug Creamer has a new book at Amazon: EncouragingU: Summer Stories. Contact him at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or doug@dougcreamer.com

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