Lately I have been privy to conversations with people, discussions about God and what the Bible means. Some of these discussions have been with people who are believers. Some of these conversations have been with non-believers. It has been astounding to me how both believers and non-believers begin their statements of what they believe bout God.
"I believe...I think...in my opinion...what it means to me is..."
These have been commony used phrases to introduce people's opinions as to what the Word of God means in their given situations. What they were talking about is irrelevant. For me, you or anyone else to hinge the will of God upon the subjectivity of our own opinion is simply unwise. For this reason Western Christianity is run amok with false doctrines and errant teachings. Why? Because all of these false doctrines and teachings are substantiated with what "I believe...I think and what it means to me is..." Think about it, no matter how sincere one may be, to relegate the meaning of God's word based upon how one feels, thinks or on their opinion is asking for disaster. It poses the danger of not simply ignoring God's word, but rebelling against it.
In Genesis Chapter 3 mankind's very first act of rebellion against the word of God is written. When the serpent tempted Eve, he brought up what God said and twisted it. While God said that they could eat of every tree in the garden, he said they could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When he brought it up to Eve, she added her opinion, what she thought, what she believed. She said, "you shall not eat of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it lest you die." She was passionate and sincere in making her case but she was sincerely wrong for God simply didn't say that.
There are many things that people are experiencing in Christianity today that, although are believed to be right, simply should not be accepted without scrutiny and judgement. Be it a manifestation of some sort, someone's experience in a 'move of God', someone's spoken word of prophecy or their behavior, it is all, I repeat, all subject to the boundaries of the word of God. There is no room for personal subjectivity on what Jesus commanded. There is no place for blatant disregard for the teaching of Paul on church order. There should be no tolerance for blatant rebellion of the Ten Commandments even.
Why is it that we accept the sincere even when it deviates from Scripture? I like to say what Phil McCutchen shared once as he quoted someone when he said, 'people have raised emotion to a level of irresistable force.' We give permission for disobedience when we embrace emotion over obedience. We tolerate error because we desire personal satisfaction over personal sacrifice. This mentality produces a spiritual kind of 'do what feels good' lifestyle.
In the book of James, chapter 1, James is writing to the Church. He is encouraging steadfastness during times of trial. He encourages them to put away filthiness and wickedness and receive the implanted word. In verse 22 he goes on to say, 'be doers of the word, and not hearers only....' It was the word of God that was to dictate the believer's interaction with the world he lived in.
In II Timothy chapter 3, Paul was explaining that eventually there would come a time when people would be corrupt. As a matter of fact, he described them as 'lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power...' Paul went on to urgently tell Timothy to continue with what he had learned form the sacred writings (word of God). Then he wrote this in verse 16, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."
We have forgotten what the Word of God is actually for.
God's word isn't given to us to be subjetively interpreted so we can live out experiences to make us feel good. It was given to us to tell us how to live. Perhaps that's why people have a problem with it. When something seems whacky, it's OK to judge it based upon the Word. When people openly err from the truth a rebuke is in order. When people are wrong, as we all sometimes can be, correction is acceptable. While people are sincere in their beliefs they can be sincerley wrong.
God's word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. It is there to guide us and is THE standard to which we conform to so to be fashioned into the image of Christ. It teaches how to live and tells us how to love. It absolutely has our best interests in mind. So I encourage everyone to let obedience to the Word of God be your source of joy, fulfillment and satisfaction instead of a sense of clinging to a right to a subjective, experience-based faith. Read it, know it, speak it and live it!
You, and those on your journey with you, will be better for it.