Having passion for what is good can be a virtue. Some attribute the Christian zeal to always considering themselves being right, and even to the violent crusade. Is that true? Are zealous Christians intolerant of other faiths?
Numbers 25 describes a period of time when many Israelites were unfaithful to their wives and slept with Canaanite women, leading them to idolatry and Israel’s eventual decay. To address God’s anger, Moses demanded death to the Israelites who were ardent followers of the Canaanite gods (Numbers 25:4-5).
While Moses and the people were weeping, an Israelite took a Canaanite woman into his tent in full view of Moses. At once the priest Phinehas went in and speared them to death. God commended Phinehas twice for being zealous for His honor (Numbers 25:10-13). The word zealous took on a life of its own.
Around 200BC, Maccabees defeated the Syrians, freeing the Israelites. Hanukkah commemorates this event, and Maccabees was praised for his zeal.
As God reveals more of Himself to us, we advance in our understanding of Him. He reveals Himself to us through the life of Christ. When Christ was crucified, He didn’t spear His persecutors. Instead, He took a spear from them. Christ shows that zeal for God leads to loving and suffering for our enemies even to the point of death, so as to help them. We should follow Christ.
The term zealots was used to describe a group of Jews fighting the Romans. One of them was Saul (later known as Paul), who zealously persecuted the Christians (Galatians 1:13-14, Philippians 3:6).
After his transformation by Christ, Paul realized he previously didn’t know God (Acts 9:1-5). Paul described the danger of zeal without true knowledge (Romans 10:2). Such zeal could lead to severe cruelty in the name of God. Remember Christ’s most vivid condemnations were against the religious leaders at that time.
We should ground our zeal on solid and true knowledge. Then our zeal will bless and not curse those who persecute us (Romans 12:11, 14).
So, we should listen to, learn from, and share with those of a different faith. Don’t just tolerate, but respect and honor them, so that Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and Christians may come to know Christ.
Summarized from a sermon by John Ortberg:
对好的东西充满热情可以是一种美德。那么狂热的基督徒呢？有些人认为这些热情导致到自以为正确, 甚至暴力的十字军东征。 真的吗？ 热情的基督徒不能容忍其他信仰吗？
民数记 25描述了在一段时间，许多以色列人与迦南妇女发生性关系，使以色列人对他们的妻子不忠，陷入偶像崇拜, 还会导致以色列的衰变。
大约在公元前200年，Maccabees击败了叙利亚, 解放了以色列人 。Hanukkah纪念这一事件。 Maccabees的热情 (zeal) 受到赞扬。
狂热者(zealots)被用来形容一群与罗马人作战的犹太人。保罗就是其中之一。他热情地(zealously)迫害基督徒 （加拉1：13-14; 腓3：6）。
保罗被基督改变后，意识到自己先前不认识上帝 （使徒行传9：1-5）。保罗描述在没有真实知识的情况下, 热心(zeal)的危险 (罗马书10：2)。 这种热心可导致用神之名而做残酷的事。请记住，基督最严厉的谴责是对着那时的宗教领袖。