Jesus reprimanded his disciple, John, when John tried to stop an exorcist from using Jesus’ name. “Don’t try to stop him,” Jesus said, “for he who is not against us is for us.” I suppose what Jesus’ meant by that is if the fellow is not demeaning us, he is not against us. If he is not doing evil, then he is not against us. Be tolerant—let him be.
Later, Jesus visited a Samaritan village and extended a hand of friendship to a people whose religious and political opinions were quite different from his own. They did not welcome him. He was not received. That made his disciples, James and John, furious. They wanted God to come down from heaven and wipe out the village! Jesus reprimanded them: be tolerant; let them be.
Like James and John, we tend to react negatively to people who are different from us, who hold a different opinion, who reject our ideas, who do not accept us, and who do not respond to our offers of friendship and dialog, or think as we think.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement had this to say, “I have no more right to object to a man for holding a different opinion from mine than I have to differ with a man because he wears a wig and I wear my own hair, but if he takes his wig off and shakes the powder in my face, I shall consider it my duty to get quit of him as soon as possible. The thing which I have resolved to use every possible method of preventing is a narrowness of spirit, a party zeal, a miserable bigotry which makes so many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among themselves. We think, and let think.”
Wesley actually practiced what he preached. When his nephew, Samuel, entered the Roman Catholic Church, Wesley wrote to him, “Whether in this Church or that I care not. You may be saved in either or damned in either.”