As a former medical student I was often chided for wearing a crucifix to the clinic. Were my troubles limited to angry words that would be enough... however I was told that I must choose between career and faith by one of the school's deans. Several clinical supervisors had voiced their distaste for my cross and these same people gave me failing grades in my rotations. Eventually I was expelled from the MD program for my beliefs.
The argument, I suppose, was that my open display of a cross, the emblem of my chosen faith, represented an offence to 'nonbelievers'. I was guilty of being intolerant.
Yet were one to suspend one's fundamental beliefs in deference to the projected views of others, the integrity of one's personal journey of faith is thus compromised. While I was seen by certain supervisors as being intolerant, I was in fact acting out of conviction.
You see, I did not grow up as a Christian. I was born into a muslim household. In addition to this, I read about other faiths, including Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. How to explain to the uninitiated what happens once you experience Jesus as Saviour? It is the crossing from the hopes and beliefs of other religions into a relationship with the Divine. It is a form of knowing that surpasses the zeal of my Islamic youth, that bypasses the intellectual approach of Buddha, that fills the God-shaped vacuum the Decalogue so aptly delineates.
So while I have been chastised most severely for intolerance of other religions, my conviction stands on a firm foundation, that of having had my sins wiped away, not in theory but in fact. When the Holy Spirit came into my heart years ago and washed my soul of its pain, it was in direct response to my openness to Christ and His cross.
If I were to deny this in public He would deny me before the angels and the Father in heaven. And I would also be denying my patients the very real healing power which accompanies a look at the cross.
The next time you are worried about being intolerant remember that your faith in Him is not a negative, it is a positively golden conviction.