My five-year old grandson, Fischer, opened his backpack with great excitement and said, “Look, NeeNee, my teacher read The Mitten Story today and then I made this.” He showed me a mitten crafted from construction paper and stuffed with various animal cut-outs he had colored. “Do you want to hear the story?” And before I could answer, he was shaking the animal cut-outs onto the kitchen counter. With limited vocabulary, and the memory of a five year old, Fischer shared his unprompted version of the Ukrainian folktale.
Of course, seven-year old sister, Olivia stood ready to interrupt whenever she felt an important story detail was omitted. Both Fischer and Olivia interpreted certain portions of the same story in different ways in an effort to draw the listener’s attention to their point of view. In the case of my grandkids, I call it sibling rivalry. But when the same scenario occurs between Christians, I call it denominational rivalry.
There will always be KEY truths to any story. In the Bible, those KEY truths are Jesus was born of a virgin, crucified and resurrected from the grave to save mankind; His blood cleanses us from our sin, and Jesus will one day return for those who believe upon His name. Most all Christian-based churches readily embrace these as fundamental truths regardless of denomination affiliations.
When a religious doctrine doesn’t’ align with your interpretation of God’s Word, then what?
Human nature alone prompts us to respond with persuasive arguments when our belief system is challenged, if only to justify our own interpretation of a story or event. When you throw religion into the mix, you have a combustive mix of religion fueled by a hundred different points of views. It ranks right up there with opposing political views.
When we are confronted with opposing views about our interpretation of God’s Word, I say stick to the basics. Jesus deals with Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and many more self-proclaimed religions. In my humble opinion, I believe God is attentive to each of us and relates scripture in a way that spiritually speaks to our individual needs.
When my grandson, Fischer, shared The Mitten Story, his focus was on the animals. He wanted them to stay warm inside the mitten. My granddaughter’s focus was entirely different. She wanted the little boy to find his lost mitten so the grandmother wouldn’t be angry. I like to think God deals with us in the same way. He has written stories for everyone to live by, but the focus (not the truth) of those stories change based on who is telling the story, and who is listening.