(This post is not about any particular church denomination, rather an observation about things that have been happening in the American church, regardless it seems, of denomonation.)
1 Cor. 9:19-23
"For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the week: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the Gospels sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."
Romans 12: 1-5
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us....."
1 Peter 3: 8-9, 15
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.....But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."
John 13: 34-35
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this all men shall know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Romans 14: 1-5,7-8,10-19
"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day before another: another esteemth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind........For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's........ But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. FOr it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brothers way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is NOTHING unclean of itself: but to him that esteemth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then you good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, ad things wherewith one may edify another."
1 Cor. 13:1-3
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not Charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feel the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
Recently, there has been a trend in the church, that sickens me, and I think it does God as well. The above verses all deal with how we should be treating each other, and what we should do when we have theological differences.
This topic is very real to me, as my family has been treated very badly by the church at many different times.. But we have also been blessed, to be loved by the church. The first time, was when my dad's church in Emmerado shut down. He was struggling, and so he ended up going to Pastor Custer in Grand Forks to talk it out. Pastor Custer was the pastor of a very conservative independent baptist church. My family did not fit there theologically at all, at least, not in lifestyle. But that church welcomed us into their midst, and didn't judge us when we needed a place to worship for a few months. They were awesome. We do have some family in that church, but it was the entire church family, who was very gracious to us. They showed the love of Christ.
While we were still living in Emmerado ND, my dad started communicating with Pine Creek Immanuel Independent Baptist Church in Watrous Pennsylvania. This church was incredibly doctrine driven. My dad wrote endless statements on what he believed about different subjects, and after several months of interviews, and endless theological emails, he was called to be the pastor there. All good.. Till several months later, when different things that my dad believed started becoming issues in the church. My dad has never taken a theological stand on eschatology, or end times because he feels there is no way to tell for sure what will happen from Scripture. The church interpreted this statement to mean he held the Aumillenial position. (Someone who believes the end times already happened.) Then there was the King James issue. My dad has never claimed to be KJV only, though he believes it to be a very accurate translation along with the NAS, and the Geneva. The church there had said they "Prefer and used the King James" We found out that meant that not even the original greek mattered if it was even as much as one letter different than their King James. To make a long painful story short, they ran us out of the church, as well as any one who supported them.
We didn't know what to do, so we ended up calling a ministry in Glasgow Mt called Elijah's Brook, where they took in Pastor's families who had been through hurtful situations, and need some time to get back on their feet. This was an Assemblies of God church, who we had so many theological differences with. In fact, my dad felt compelled to tell the pastor why he didn't agree with many things their church did. While he was in the middle of his story, Pastor Dave interrupted him and asked him if he believed the fundamentals of the faith. That Jesus came to earth as the perfect Son of God and died on a cross to save sinners, and that our job as believers is to share that Gospel. Well, obviously he did. Dave then told him the rest didn't matter, and if he would be more comfortable in a Baptist church, there was one in town that he was more than welcome to attend. To make a very long story short, for the entire time we were part of Elijah's Brook, those people loved us. They cooked us meals, they prayed for us, they accepted us like family, despite our theological differences. That Christmas we got presents from complete strangers, who decided God was telling them to give to us. After receiving all that love, we asked ourselves, what is truly more important to God? Doctrine, or Loving His people?
Doctrine is surely important, but does it matter more than our brothers and sisters in Christ, who may differ in opinion? I can think of no reason why all the churches in a town who believe in Jesus, shouldn't get together and have one big outreach. Get to know the other Christians in your town. Even from different churches. Even from Pentecostal or Baptist churches. I have wonderful friends from both sides, and I can assure you, there is a genuine love of God, Jesus, and the Bible on both sides. It saddens me that we as Christians make judgement calls on other Christians because of their theology. I am tired of hearing Christians saying about one another "I don't see how such and such denomonation can even be considered Christian, they practice speaking in tongues, singing hymns, have a drum set" and the list goes on and on and on.
Remember that every believer out there regardless of denomination is part of the bride of Christ. I think we as Christians need to think of how Jesus feels seeing his bride treated the way we treat each other.. And we also need to remember we are all on the same side!!
I wish I could say its only one group that does this, but from what I have seen it happens in just many churches. There are some exceptions.. I am working real hard to be the exception. It is so easy for me to judge.. Especially when there are Christians who celebrate Halloween, and read Harry Potter, and participate in other things that I can not in good conscience participate in myself. But I remind myself that not so long ago, I didn't mind watching TV shows that did not honour God, and God convicted me of that. If God can convict me, he can surely do the same for the rest of his Church.
The greatest commandment that God ever gave was to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. The next was Love your neighbour as yourself. I think that it is just as important, if not more so, to love our brothers in Christ.
I guess this has gotten quite long enough.. Leave some feedback, so I know if I am getting at something or if all this is off the wall.