Unfortunately, the word, “Theology” has gotten a bad rap. For many, this word conjures up images of arrogant, self-righteous, sour-faced men sitting around arguing about spiritual philosophies and abstract theories. Oh, throw in some Greek or Hebrew and some fancy words like Pneumatology or consubstantial, and there you have it… Theology.
If this is all theology is about, then I want nothing to do with it! Sadly, I have heard many people speak of theological discussions as though they are shameful and anti-Jesus. I can understand this sentiment because I used to run from theological discussions as well. Until I learned what theology really is.
Theology is the study of God! Spending your time studying God, and joining others in discussing these truths is about as pro-Jesus as you can get!
The problem lies not with theology or theological discussions. Sure, many who passionately study theology are simply hungry for head-knowledge and don’t know the first thing about love or grace. This is not how God intends for us to pursue him. But the fact that these types of people exist should not prevent us from pursuing God out of love and a grateful heart for what he has done for us. If we are his children we should be eager to know more about him. Who is God? What does he like? How can I show him my gratitude and love? What does he despise? How can I avoid causing my Father sadness or anger? These are questions all believers in Yahweh should seek to answer. And guess what… Theology will give you these answers. Nothing boring about that!
Unfortunately, these head-knowledge seekers often turn many away from the study of theology. The problem is not with the study. It is with the attitude. It is with the purpose. What should be our purpose as believers? Well, we need to know the God we serve, and serve him! Love him and love others! Simple right? Yes! aaand no. You see, when we run from the study of theology, we start creating our own religion… our own god.
I hear my pastor quote, “Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” So I think I’ve got it. But here’s the thing: What does that mean? Even as human beings, we all give and receive love differently. If I am allergic to peanuts, is it loving of my husband to make me a peanut butter sandwich every day? What if I leave him notes that tell him I’m allergic, and he just doesn’t feel like reading those notes? He wants to decide for himself what is loving behavior. That neglect translates into LACK of love.
God didn’t leave us clueless. He didn’t leave us to make up the answers for ourselves. God has given us His Word! If we desire to love and worship Yahweh we can’t just decide for ourselves what He wants. We need to wisely dig into His Word to discover what He has told us about Himself, His desires, and His disgusts.
But theology left in the head or in the argument is pointless, sometimes even disgusting. The question we should always ask ourselves in response to any theology is, “How then should I live?” We shouldn’t be satisfied with simply knowing.We must diligently translate any knowledge of God into actions.
We can desire to worship the God of the Bible all we want, but theology is what gives us an accurate understanding of Him. Once we understand who God is, we then must respond in praise and adoration toward this awesome God. Theology without praise and practice is dead. Praise without an accurate understanding of God is idolatry–the worship of a god created by our own mind.
So don’t run from theology. But in your pursuit of understanding who God is, don’t ever neglect to ask yourself, “Now that I know this about God, how will this change me? How then should I live?”