The Christian Church reminds me a lot of a supermarket these days. You can find a little of everything to suit your taste. If you support women preachers go to that church. If you like believe in speaking in tongues go to this church. If you hold to gay marriage go to that church over there. It is hard to know what the Church holds on to as beliefs any more because the teaching is as varied as people. We are making God out to be whatever we want or need him to be. But that isn't the Church.
It comes down to interpreting the Word of God, or at least that is what I have been told time and again recently. The problem with interpretation is that it has to go through our own personal set of filters. We tend to ignore the stuff we don't like or excuse it away. Looking at the Word of God this way means it is wide open to abuse and it most certainly has been abused. We can make the Word say whatever we want it to say according to our own personal prejudices.
The problem with all of this is that we have left out the very important part of "deny yourself". Following Jesus has been very aptly explained in a couple of steps in the Word. First we are crucified with Jesus, so we die. We die to ourselves, to sin, to desires, hopes, dreams, opinions and this world. This is the part people tend to overlook or forget. We go right to the second step which is to be made alive in Jesus. Well we can't be made alive in Jesus if we have not died. So we have this fake thing happening.
We conform most of our behaviour to that of Jesus but our heart actually remains the same. There has been no transformation because transformation requires death, a letting go of everything we knew, especially our opinions, and living in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In a society that prizes individual rights and freedoms, this is hard. What Christians should be understanding is that we are taking orders and directions from the Spirit and not doing what we think is best based on our knowledge.
This is how we read the Word, not through our experience and opinions, but through Jesus. The Word says that we know his mind. We don't know his mind if we have not died. We only know his mind when we have been crucified with him, raised to life in him, possessed of the Spirit and seeking only the Father's will. Anything less than this has the danger of "interpreting" God's Word with our filters. If we use our filters we will always bend God's Word to our desires.
Perhaps this is the reason Paul instructed Timothy:
Worship with people whose hearts are pure. (2 Timothy 2:22)
The only heart that is pure is that which is possessed by Jesus. The only heart that can be possessed by Jesus is the one that has voluntarily died, been crucified with Jesus and has been raised to life in Jesus. I repeat, in Jesus because there is no life found in us, only what is found in Jesus. We can't live for ourselves and Jesus. We can't serve both this world and God. Holiness requires that we find no value in this world or opinion of man but instead we live on every word from God. Anything less and we are lying to ourselves.
So I have a problem when people talk about interpretation. It usually means the person has a personal agenda and is creating God in the image of his own sinful desires. When we have died to self, been made alive in Jesus, the only interpretation we need comes from the Spirit and is always the will of the Father and not our own. Stop looking for a church that meets your own personal beliefs. Repent of your selfish ways and seek believers whose hearts are pure.