Some Christians seem to feel that God is a carnival magician, hiding truth like a bean under a cup. The only way to win salvation is to correctly guess which cup hides the bean. But i think God is just happy that we're playing at all. God wants us to want Him, to chase after Him, to pursue the ultimate prize of a relationship with Him. We should care less about getting to Heaven some day than we do about drawing near to God today. When you stop caring about the prize and focus on the game, you'll find much more value in both.
My salvation is not contingent upon whether or not i guess the truth correctly. Nor is my salvation contingent upon how many of my friends guess the truth correctly. My salvation is contingent upon whether or not i love God and love others.
I'm sick of the either/or approach to Christianity. As if any of us have all the right answers. I think a lot of us probably have some right answers, but arguing about which people and which answers will get us nowhere. It's much better to listen to one another in love, pray earnestly, read the Bible, and decide in your own heart how to live your life.
There are times when we must hold one another accountable. But that is a personal accountability. One person going to another in love and having a conversation. You can't just tell them that they're wrong. Talk to them. See if, together, you can figure out where they strayed from the path. It may be that you'll discover that you're the one who is off track. Go to one another quietly and in love, and talk and pray together to grow closer to the truth. Don't be harsh or condemnatory. Don't assume that your spiritual discomfort on their behalf means that you are right. Be willing to listen. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to agree to disagree, understanding that your rightness or wrongness has no effect on your salvation.
It's not about guessing the right cup. It's about playing games with God. He just wants to hang out. And when our goal is growing closer to Him rather than finding the salvation bean, we end up accomplishing both of those ends. Christianity is a relationship, not a contest. According to Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct behavior: "There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection is the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted." Think of God in these terms: the affection is the entertainment. The point isn't that you're winning a giant stuffed teddy bear or seeing an amazing concert. The point is that you're spending time together. The other stuff is a nice bonus, and it's always better to experience something wonderful with someone you love. But the point should always be the someone, and not the something.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." -- Matthew 6:33 When all we care about is winning the game, we will likely lose, and even the winners will experience little or no pleasure in their victory. But when we focus on the joy of the game, not only are we more likely to win, but we want to keep playing even after it's all over. Which is good, because an eternity in Heaven is going to be a freaking long time, so we should be excited at the prospect of hanging out with the people there.