I am shocked and not so shocked at the same time at the attitude and behavior of some christians, churches, and preachers when it comes to judging, condemning, or bad-mouthing other christians or churches.
I personally have felt this attack from others because I didn't go to their "kind" of church, agree with certain "beliefs" they hold to, or didn't line up with their religious circle or viewpoint. It makes me angry and sad at the same time.
There is a saying in churches of "shooting our wounded" or even in the military about "collateral damage" where some of our own troops may get killed or injured by friendly fire or our own doing. I think this is both wrong and not Christ-like.
Whether you are an individual christian, a member of a certain church, or even a Minister we do not have any biblical authority or authority from God to condemn, belittle, put down, argue, or judge what another christian, church, or pastor believes.
We may have an obligation in our churches to strive to preach the truth in love (eph 4:15), and also scripture tells us to use God's word to correct, rebuke, and teach (2 Tim 4:2), but we many take this overboard and begin in my opinion becoming modern day pharisees making being a christians about being a part of a certain church group/denomination or you have to have certain beliefs or opinions or I can't fellowship with you or I won't recognize you as a "real" christian.
I am personally tired and frustrated by all the spiritual ignorance that is going on in our world today and people doing it in the name of God. People worship their denomination, or personal views, or a bible version, or a preacher, or personal doctrine more than they worship our Lord. What's up with that?
There are people out there that if you don't use a certain bible version then you are a heretic, worldy, ignorant, stupid, and don't know the truth. There are those out there that if you aren't a member of their church group or denomination, you aren't really a true or real christian and you are being misled and following man and not God. There are those out there who have such narrow views of God, His word, and faith that if you do not agree with their view on a certain topic like baptism, eternal security, worship, music, bible version, communion, speaking in tongue, spiritual gifts, etc..then you aren't really a good christian or you aren't as spiritual as them or are misled or confused.
I agree there are certain things in the Bible that are clear, in writing, and clear instructions of what God expects of His church and followers, however there are also many things in God's word where we as individuals have liberty or freedom. This is hard for many to accept because they weren't "raised" that way or "taught" that way. They were raised or taught one way and any other way is wrong, a sin, or blasphemy. We as indivuals are responsible to read and study God's word.
I am not tyring to change anyone today, but I am trying to open our minds this morning, that we are hurting God and hurting the church and our faith if/when we are judgemental, dogmatic, militant, or harsh with our faith, especially toward others who are christians or go to different churches or maybe share different opinions about certain topics/subjects than us. I think that type of behavior and attitude is way more wrong than what me or you believe about worship music, bible versions, or what to wear to church, or what I believe about the second coming.
I think they key for everyone is to ask ourselves about any issue is "Is this a salvation issue"? meaning if I believe this or practice this will it effect my salvation? Or we need to ask ourselves "Is this Kingdom bearing"? Meaning is this really a place for liberty, freedom, or personal conviction or is this a command from God. I know it's hard for many of us to a accept or change our attitude and thoughts and ways that we've practice for ages, but I don't care how long you've been a christian, how long you've been preaching, or how long you've been a member of a certain church, if you are putting down, belittling, name calling, or judging others to defend "your" position, faith, or church then you are nothing more than a bully, a trouble-maker, and causing division and dissension in the church body as a whole, and you are the one who is ignorant, misled, or missing the truth.
Jesus never treated people that way, the only time Jesus was really harsh was to the ignorant, self-centered, arrogant Religious leaders and Pharisess due mostly to their attitude and self-proclaimed spiritual authority.
I am not saying we all compromise our beliefs or convictions, but what I am suggesting today is that we do not put down, look down, or not assoicated with other christians or churches simply because they don't share the exact same viewpoint, convictions, or opinions as me. We do not have to agree on every issue to fellowship, accept on another, or worship together.
I think we need to practice a lot more grace, respect, and unity with those churches and christians who may not share all the same practices, beliefs, views, or opinions that I may share. If you feel convicted to about a bible version, or worship style, or some other issue, than do not bind that on others. Would you want someone to do you that way. Also understand just becuase you have a conviction or belief about something doesn't mean you are correct or have authority to bind that on others. Exericse love with others. Respect their views. It's not your job or place to always "correct"
or "challenge" everyone and when you think you are doing them a favor, you really are just making them not want to be around you or listen to you because many times people who try to "correct' others in "error" usually do more damage than good.
We are on the same team, Yes! Same Team! You might not like it or agree with it, but we serve the same Lord. We may choose to use a different bible version(which isn't changing God's word) simply a different translation(do some research) or we may choose to sing songs of worship differntly (contemporary worship, traditional hymn worship, instruments or no instruments), and we may go to churches that have different names on the sign/door, and we all may share diffrent views on a variety of topics in the bible(and they are endless it seems), but that doesn't make me or you less or more of a christian, righter or wronger(I just made up those words), or it doesn't make you or me more or less spiritual.
Come on people, treat other christians with love and respect even when you disagree. We are an example to the outside world and why in the world would a lost, unsaved, un-churches person ever want to go to church or follow Jesus if his current followers treat each other this way or can't get along or fight or put each other down? We are being a bad example. I would rather be righteous than right anyday. I would rather agree to disagree than argue and fight and put a wedge between me and a bother, and I certainly do not have any authority from God to claim a person a christian or not if they do not line up with my own personal faith.
Let's start working together, getting along, respecting others differences, and stop focusing on trying to prove others wrong, and start focusing on reaching the lost, building up the church body, and doing our part to get along with others and love others. I'm at a point in my life where I am tired of fighting and listening to other christians constantly pushing their message with hate and ignorance and juding others and putting them down. I have no room in my life for people like this, if you don't accept me because I don't agree with you or line up with your thinking, then that is your problem and loss. I for one will never put someone down or not fellowship with them or judge them not a christian because they don't agree with me or believe exactly as I do and I hope you will do the same. Whether you like it or accept it, doesn't change the fact that we are on the SAME TEAM!
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.