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:
对美好的事物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总是自以为正确的基督徒, 甚至暴力的十字军东征。 这是真的吗？ 热情的基督徒不能容忍其它信仰吗？
民数记 25描述有一段时间许多以色列人与迦南妇女发生性关系，使以色列人对妻子不忠，陷入偶像崇拜, 还会引致以色列最终的衰败。
面对上帝对以色列人的愤怒，摩西要求处死那些热衷于跟随迦南神的以色列人 （民数记25:4-5）。 摩西与百姓一同在哭泣时，一名以色列人在他眼前带了一位迦南女子进入自己的帐篷。祭司非尼哈立刻进去刺死了他们。上帝两次称赞非尼哈为神的尊荣大发热心（ 民数记25：10-13）。热情这个词变得非常重要。
大约在公元前200年，马加比击败叙利亚而解放了以色列人 。犹太人的光明节纪念这一事件。 马加比的热情受到赞扬。
狂热者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。他曾狂热地迫害基督徒 （加拉太书1：13-14; 腓力比书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）。保罗描述在没有真知识的情况下热心的危险 (罗马书10：2)。 这种热心可能使人假借神之名而行出残酷之事。请记住基督最严厉的谴责是针对着当时的宗教领袖。