(Backdate: 6/6/14 9:33 AM)
God allows us to interpret many different ways while we read the Bible. It is the Holy Spirit working in us that allows us to come to a better understanding of what God is telling us. One Christian might read a few verses and realize the Word of God in view of a particular situation that is currently going on in their life. Another might read those same verses, and again, might realize the view in regards to a completely different situation in their lives. This is part of the importance of reading the Bible and staying true to the Word. I, myself, have often read some verses, come to a realization of what they are saying to me personally, and might read the same verses months later coming to another way that it also applies in my life.
The discussion and great debate about one church being fully approved by God, while the other is not quite with it due to variations of their interpretation has gone on since the beginning of “the church.”
Many would argue that certain scriptures and interpretation is the proof that what they are doing in their own church and beliefs is the true and right way. In Acts 15:3-5 it says,
So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
What was happening is that although they were all believers in Christ, from all over, some Greeks, some Jews that converted, some Pharisees, there was still a group that stood and accused others that they must be circumcised and keep with the law of Moses, that they were saying they could not truly be involved unless they were circumcised. That they must also follow the old laws.
What the Bible teaches us about being circumcised in the New Testament is that through Christ, we are circumcised. That our sin has been removed and we are all one in our belief in Christ.
It does not teach us that we must partake in one thing while avoiding others to be true believers.
What I have witnessed throughout my life concerning other denominations/non-denominations is that there are some groups (also could be compared to the Pharisees in Acts) that believe only their views are the correct views. If we were not meant to interpret the Bible in a various of ways, why would we need the Holy Spirit in us? Why didn’t Christ come and say, “Hey, guys, this is how God’s church needs to be. Not this way, not that way. Here are the instructions on how I want them to look, what I want you all to say, and how you are to go about your fellowship.” No, He came to teach us many things, most of which is love and compassion for others. Are we, therefore, practicing love while we condemn one church over another because of it’s slight variations of interpretation? Can you tell me that you personally know every person in that one church is not equipped with the same Holy Spirit and Scripture that God has given to all of us? That He must not be speaking to that church or He isn’t really in that church, while other people are lead to Christ through the ministry of that church? What is more important, believing in one variation or another, or bringing others to know the Lord?
Christ discussed how even those who are lost are more important than those who are standing around in their beliefs. That God would rather see one person saved than a hundred just standing around in fellowship.
He spoke of such parables when the Pharisees and scribes were complaining that he was sitting and eating with tax collectors. Christ has tried to point out many times through his parables that it is not about what one person does, but it is about their faith in the Lord and what we, as Christians, do with it.
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”
And in discussing all the different variations in interpretations that are out there, if we are all serving the same God and we are all working to spread the Word of God and our faith, does it really matter what church you belong to? You might come to a conclusion that you feel one church isn’t right for you while another is, and that’s okay. What’s not right is to rub it in the faces of other believers, claiming yours is the only true church. To do such things is a hypocrisy in itself. That is to say that you are essentially claiming that it is more important in the way that you are exercising your faith than your faith overall. Can one church bring others to the Lord and another church cannot? Of course not. Are the other churches not truly serving the right God because they believe slightly differently? They are, and His work is evident in the fruit bearing that that church or ministry has brought forth. God will make his presence known. If others are truly seeking Him, don’t stop and look at a few individuals in their own lives, but in the overall progress of the ministries they belong to.
Simply ask yourself, “Do they believe in God and the importance of your personal life through Christ? Do they believe in the importance of the Scriptures? Do they believe that Christ died on the cross for their sins and that in accepting Him, their sins are washed away so they may have an intimate relationship with God?”
If you can truly say that overall these are the things they are trying to teach others, then who are we to have such prejudices about the way they teach, preach, pray, sing, worship, fellowship, study, park their car, or part their hair?
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:29b-33
On another note, I feel that it is important to point out that when a group or church decides to say that another group or church is not fully of Christ because they believe one way or another, they are missing the bigger picture. If you met a man that was a believer in Christ, but also had variations of his interpretations from the Bible depending on what he might be currently going through in life, would you still consider him to be a Christian? The Holy Spirit helps us interpret from the Bible, in a way for God to speak to us when we are truly seeking Him, so that we might gain wisdom through the Spirit and spread His Word.
Churches that are denominational or non-denominational are not to be viewed as being “correct” or “incorrect.” That is to say, that if you have a group of Christians that happens to believe one thing while another group believes another, who is to say they are not still following the same God? Who is to say they have not accepted Christ into their lives? I’m not talking about the lukewarm Christians that only go to church on Sundays or holidays, whose Bibles sit on a shelf collecting dust. I’m talking about the ones who are seeking God, are working on their relationship with Him, and are regularly seeking to grow in the Lord.
God doesn’t care about the little, petty things that we all tend to become so focused on. He cares about US. He doesn’t care what race you belong to, what sports games you like, what cars you drive, what you take in your coffee, He cares about having a personal and intimate relationship with all of us.
To say that you accept a fellow believer’s acceptance in Christ, that they are a Christian, but condemn the rest of their beliefs (their personal interpretations through the Holy Spirit) is, in a way, condemning Christ. You can say you accept them but don’t agree with all of their views, but to separate yourselves fully in fear of alterations of views is not being in the body of Christ.
We are meant to work together as one body with different functions (different ministries, out reach, whatever) in one body, the body that is composed of believers in Christ.
To say one denomination is incorrect over another, while it is their fundamental right to have opinions and views brought by the Holy Spirit, while they are still believers in Christ and seeking Him on a personal level, is to say they don’t truly have Christ. Is condemning the work God is putting forth for them, their church, their ministries, to bear fruit. How then do we different from the Pharisees?
To say you welcome them as a brother or sister in Christ, yet do not accept their organization and must keep yourself separated, is in a way, not accepting their belief in Christ. It’s a contradiction. If they have a full understanding of what God wants them to work towards, yet have different traditions or ways they go about spreading the Love of Christ, who are we to say who is correct and who isn’t? Who are we to question the path God has put them on? Wouldn’t we then be accusing them of not being real Christians? Who are we to judge if God is working in their lives differently than He might be working in our lives? The point is to spread the Word of God, not to sit and bicker about who’s right and who’s wrong by the way they practice their faith.
“Taking our place in the common fellowship of Christ’s Body considerably simplifies and enriches church life. However, it comes at the price of shedding religious egos. That means banishing the habit of vilifying everyone else (or even nicely demoting them). If we are special, or in some positive sense “unique,” then let others tell us. Just as Paul said, they will report that God is truly among you (1 Cor 14:25). If we spend most of our time trying to convince ourselves and our visitors how special we are, how unique, pure, and God-blessed, then there’s something wrong. Together with all true believers, we have been equally elevated to the greatest place in the universe–to be Christ’s own body. Our mission is not to occupy some fictitious higher peak. Being at rest with this humble reality, we can then turn our attention to the more pressing concerns of living out what we are.”