I believe in a need to have filters in life. We need to filter our thoughts, our media intake, the words we choose to say, and a host of other things. You will hear me talk plenty about how much I like having filters. However, sometimes filters can be a hindrance in the Christian walk. Sometimes we can incorrectly use a filter when looking at God’s word. There are same infamous filters that people struggle with that I would like to bring up.
1. That’s not what I was taught
Some people read the Bible, and come across a passage that they are trying to interpret properly. The immediate interpretation may go against something they were taught growing up. Perhaps it is a passage dealing with a sin like marriage before sex, or maybe it is some doctrinal related topic about salvation or the trinity. Whatever the topic is, we can sometimes throw out Scripture based off of our past teachings.
2. My pastor says differently
I am a pastor so I can say this. Never take what your pastor says at face value. Dig into the Scriptures for yourself. If he is correct (as he should be) then great! You have received a deeper understanding of the topic he was speaking on. Sometimes a pastor will make a mistake though. There are some pastors out there who are simply false teachers. Assuming that your pastor interprets everything right is a dangerous thought process. Perhaps your pastor preaches that God will give you everything you ask for so long as you have enough faith, and there is nothing that speaks opposite to that. You will find yourself throwing out all kinds of Scripture because you put your faith in a fallible preacher.
3. This feels wrong
Sometimes we toss out Scripture or try and reinterpret it because it makes us uncomfortable. People do this all the time when dealing with passages that talk about God being a judge, passages about the consequences of sin in this life and the next, passages that talk about needing to speak out about sin, etc. We go into our Scripture reading with our emotions as our filter. This is a huge mistake. We put God in the hot seat as we proceed to judge what He is saying. Anything that seems unfair or wrong we toss aside or rework so that it fits our mold.
4. Theological preference.
It does not matter what your theological preference is. Calvinist, Arminiast, wovenist. You could be Baptist, Presbyterian, charismatic, or Nazarene. If you read all Scripture with the mindset that everything must be interpreted based on your preconceived theological views, then you have made a mistake. I once had a professor that told me that he liked the views of Calvinism and was currently looking to find Scriptures to support this view that he had already decided he agreed with. I find people of any theological persuasion fall into this trap. Look to see what Scripture says, and then let your theological views mold from that.
5. Whatever is interesting.
We pass over the passages that are boring and dull to us. We use the filter of “This will never benefit me.” However Scripture says that all of it is profitable and can be useful for the believer. Perhaps we should be striving harder to get something out of those “boring” passages rather than toss them off to the side.
6. Tier leveling.
We place some Scripture as more important. Plain and simple. We look at the words Jesus said and say that those are the most important. We say that Jesus words end up trumping other parts of the Bible. We throw out things Paul says that we don’t like because it was just his own opinion, and writing to a very different culture. This is wrong. We do this because we sometimes feel as though Scripture contradicts itself. We prefer to take the easy way out in putting emphasis on some passages over others. Even Paul’s letters are part of God’s word. They are from God. It is not simple suggestions.
7. What I need
This is a tricky little filter. Often times Christians pass through passage after passage in search of finding that one verse that they think will speak directly to their current issue. What this usually turns into is reading Scripture to find the answer that we already know we want. Maybe you are faced with a difficult decision, and you seek Scripture for guidance. What we end up doing is put God on our timetable. We are telling God that we know what we need to hear better than He does. We don’t believe that God is capable of speaking to us on any other matters except the one that we are seeking answers on. This filter results in us potentially missing out on some really good stuff in Scripture.