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2024: A Year of Reconciliation and Trust

By Chris Heitkamp, Pastor, Harlingen Church | Posted December 31, 2023 |

You still see some of them around today—but a decade ago, they were prominently displayed on the back of many cars. You may remember the TOLERANCE bumper stickers, spelled out with the icons of many different religions and faiths. The intent was to open our minds to embrace the faiths and understandings of others, not just ourselves. Oh, the good times of then.

Tolerance Bumper Sticker

Tolerance Bumpersticker

As we enter 2024, it is my prayer that we move beyond the tolerance mindset and into an attitude of acceptance.

As a pastor of a church, you may find that ironic, as I will confess the Church has often been one of least tolerant over the generations.

However, maybe we are the ones to re-initiate the process of reconciliation and trust in humanity. We can once again strive to find a level of peace amongst each other.

Tolerance and acceptance are not the same. They may have a base level of agreement, but the depth between them are greatly different.

If I am to tolerate someone, I put up with them. I do not have to agree with them, like them, or even accept them. We agree to disagree, end of conversation.  There is no effort to find an understanding between two differing opinions, because frankly we don’t care.

Tolerance does not move beyond the surface level, especially today. However, if I am to accept you, I am willing to go deeper into a relationship with you. 

Chris Heitkamp, Pastor, Harlingen Church, Montgomery Township

Chris Heitkamp, Pastor, Harlingen Church, Montgomery Township

If we are to accept one another, we do not have to agree with each other. Acceptance allows us to have varying points of view, but also enter into a dialogue regarding them.

When we take the time to accept others’ viewpoints, we come to an understanding of how and why; how they came to develop their values, their passions, their politics, and their faith; why this is important to them.

As a society, I believe we are losing this ability to debate with peace, with inquiry.

As a debater in school, it was taught the most important lesson we can learn is to listen. Listen to the other side to see where they commonalities lie and from there find a compromise to work together.

James 1:19-20 in the Holy Bible reads, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

It is my prayer as we enter this new year this verse becomes a favored thought in our hearts.  With it, may we move from where we are to accept each other as who we are, neighbors, colleagues, friends; diverse, unique, and loved. ■

Harlingen Church

Route 206 At Dutchtown Road

Belle Mead


Sunday services: 

10 am, In-person & Live-streamed

Introducing our Neighbors to Heaven on Earth through Loving and Serving

Chris Heitkamp, Pastor


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