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Tuesday

The Gospel, Theology, and Life

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a pastor (for me at least, I can't speak for anyone else) is consistently seeing a blatant lack of interest in theology from people who say they desire to love God and serve Him faithfully. There seems to be a persistent idea that theology is dry, boring, and not especially beneficial (or even downright harmful) to the everyday life of the Christ follower. That somehow spending time studying God will get in the way of loving and serving God.

This seems to me to be a terribly flawed and destructive idea for several reasons. Just a couple of those reasons:

  • How can you really love God if you don't know who He has revealed Himself to be.  It would be like saying you love your wife but calling her a blue eyed blonde when she is really a brown eyed brunette. The person you are professing love for is someone other than who your wife is.
  • How can you serve God faithfully if you have no idea of how He has interacted with His people throughout history? 
  • How do you identify false views and ideas of God if you have no standard of truth with which to contrast those views?
I would like to spend most of this post, however, dealing with what I think to be the most damaging result of a lack of interest in theology, namely that every sin and every hindrance to our following and loving Christ like we desire to is ultimately the inevitable result of living out bad theology. 


If you do not listen to The­ol­ogy, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones – bad, mud­dled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trot­ted out as nov­el­ties to-​day are simply the ones which real The­olo­gians tried cen­turies ago and rejected.  ---  C.S. Lewis

 Somehow we have come to have this idea that it is possible to live a live devoid of theology.  That if we somehow just avoid the topic altogether we will be free to pursue God without the constraints that theology would burden us with.  The truth, however is that even to attempt to pursue God, to even acknowledge belief in God at all, is to demonstrate that we do indeed have some sort of theology.  The question is never do we have a theology but do we have a right and accurate theology.

First off, we need to understand that our theology is not to be found in what we say we believe about God, it is borne out in how we choose to live out our lives, in the decisions we make with our money, in our marriages, in how we raise our kids, etc. It is easy to say on a Sunday morning in church or in your small group that you believe the Bible, that you believe God loves you unconditionally, and you trust God with your life.  Watch someone close enough for long enough and you will eventually find some behavior or decision they make that demonstrates that, at least in that area of their life, they don't really believe those things at all.  Often we don't even realize that we hold to a faulty view of who God is or how He works.

Why do we so often run from God when we have sinned?  Why do we not, as he tells us to, run in repentance to Him for forgiveness and restoration?  Because at some level deep inside we don't believe He loves us unconditionally.  At some level we believe we have to achieve and maintain a certain level of holiness/cleanliness in order for God to love and accept us.  So we run and we try to clean ourselves up enough to earn our way back into His favor.

Why do we so often choose not to give to our church, to the poor, to the needy?  Because at some level we do not believe God when He says he will take care of us if we really trust Him with our money.

Why do we so often fail at relationships?  Because we don't really believe that God's way is the best way.  We don't believe that if we serve others that ultimately it will bring us joy.

Why do we so often  fall prey to addictions?  Because we don't really believe that God is enough for us.  We don't believe that He alone can satisfy us so we seek other, earthly means to satisfy our longings.

At the end of the day, if you dig deep enough into any situation, the root cause of every ill we face is that we don't really believe the things God has told us to be true about Himself in his Word.  We are constantly falling victim to our own bad theology.

The good news in all this is that the solution to every ill we face as individuals, as churches, as communities, as a race is found in Christ and in knowing Him for who He has revealed Himself to be.  Which is why at the end of the day there really is only one message worth proclaiming to anyone, only one word of counsel to give anyone, only one method for overcoming addiction........the Gospel.

What does that mean for those of us in ministry (which is anyone who is a follower of Christ by the way, not just those on staff at a church)?  It means the only thing worth sacrificing for, the only thing worth abandoning this world for, the only thing that will really impact our world is serving our God as ministers of His Gospel.  Nothing else works and anything else separated from the Gospel will affect temporary change at best.

Not only is good theology (knowing God as He really is) a good thing for us to pursue, really it is the only thing.
Not only is good theology useful to us in our pursuit of loving and serving God, it is by definition impossible to love and serve God without it.

So love God with all your heart.  Serve Him faithfully and sacrificially.  Just make sure it is really Him you are loving and serving and not a man made, inadequate substitute created from your faulty theology.


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