I had a conversation with someone yesterday and it really got me kind of mad at the way some of us approach our Christianity and how we relate to others that may not think exactly the same as we do. There are many different denominations in Christianity, and even some people that don't consider themselves "religious" but still believe in Christianity. I don't think some of the more regimented Christians quite know how to handle those Christians who maybe don't go to church on a regular basis or who sometimes swear or sometimes have a drink.
I'm not saying that if your particular beliefs tell you to abstain from those things that you shouldn't do them. By all means, you should! However, someone else who believes in Christ just like you do might believe it is okay to have a drink once in awhile, or may be in an environment where swearing is the norm and might let it slip at times. For example, I am one of those people. I work in a very "male-centric" environment where swearing is part of the sentence structure. I don't make a habit of swearing, but when you are around it day in and day out, some of it sets in. I'm not saying you have to believe it's right, and if you're my friend, I will try to watch the way I talk, but nor should you tell me I'm going to go to hell for it. It's not up to you.
Just to be clear, I'm not saying that anyone has told me I'm going to hell recently. I'm just using myself as an example of how openly judgmental people can be. It's okay to not agree with others. It would be a perfect world if everyone agreed all the time, but we don't live in a perfect world, do we? All I'm saying is that people need to realize that if we want others to treat us with respect, we need to do the same for them. I've always believed that you kill more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
Someone recently expressed concern that even though she did a ton of good things for other people and she believed in what she calls a "higher power", she was going to go to hell, simply because of the above-mentioned things. I quickly jumped on the chance to tell her that she has a good heart and she helps people, and as long as she's not doing all those good things just to cancel out any of the "bad" she thinks she's doing, as a way to assure her a spot in heaven, I think she'll be fine.
That's actually the first time I've actually explained grace apart from works to anyone, and I wasn't even sure I understood it myself. I told her that I live a life that I hope is mostly pleasing to God, not because I'm hoping he'll see all this stuff and say "Yep, she can go to Heaven," but because I believe in Him and what Jesus did want to please him. Sure, I and everyone else on earth fall short, but if we try and we believe what we say, then God is merciful and will reward us.
Yeah, so I guess what I'm saying is that tearing people down is not always the best way to win followers to Christ, so watch what you say.