Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. -Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
I don’t think I have ever attended a church where I didn’t look at least one of its members with suspicion and sometimes outright contempt. It is so easy to judge others by using the Bible as a ‘weapon’ instead of the perfect ‘guidebook.’ Sure, I know it’s not Christ-like behavior and I am commanded to love my fellow brothers and sisters, doing all I can to share the gospel with those my Father has drawn to Jesus.
Of course, there are things I have to make judgments about: is the local church preaching a watered-down “many paths to God” type of Gospel? Because that is not the Gospel. Is it OK with them to pick and choose the scriptures they wish to adhere to — and which to drown in sinful interpretation? It is certainly crucial to adopt a “Berean attitude” when it comes to preachers and congregations, searching the Scriptures with regularity to make sure things are in agreement with God’s Word (especially important doctrines).
I have friends that are Pentecostal, Charismatic and those who definitely are not. I will not debate whether or not the gifts of the Spirit are for today in this post. Please do not infer from what I have stated that I don’t think that God operates in the life of believers today, because I do. For instance, I have no reason to think he does not heal people — as it suits His purpose. I also believe that He bestows his gifts on people as He sees fit and bestows upon all believers the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. I also won’t separate with my fellow brothers and sisters over issues such as the proper way to baptize (which I believe is full immersion at an age of consent). Baptism by itself has no power to save anyone and is not essential to salvation (the thief on the cross certainly had no time or way to receive baptism when he came to know Christ). We do it because we are commanded to to show repentance and a new life in Christ.
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. -1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)