Did you know that you’re a theologian? Theology is merely the study of God. Or let me put it even simpler: theology what you know, feel and believe about God.
You may not ever be asked to compile your Theology into a textbook or into a confession, but that doesn’t make your theology any less real.
But there’s something that’s very important as well: What you think, feel or believe about God influences every single aspect of your life. So you can’t pit theology against love any more than you can ask a yolk and an egg to fight against each other.
Often our deepest “theological foundations” come out in ways that aren’t always fully conscious. We act a certain way, because our worldview, our “theology,” shapes our perspective.
Do you believe that God doesn’t care about who you have sex with? That’s theology. You are making a statement about God, his intents and expectations. This one in particular doesn’t match reality (where God has made it plain that He does care about our love and sex lives) but it still is a theology. If God doesn’t care, then He’ll never hold you accountable and you are bound to do whatever and whenever you want.
Do you believe that God has your best interests at heart? Then you’ll find that obedience and trusting him is one of the easiest things to do, even when life is painful and difficult, or when obeying seems counter intuitive to your own happiness.
Do you not trust that God will take care of your needs? Then you could either move toward a life of workaholic stress since if you can’t trust God to care for you, then you yourself would have to care for your every need. Or you’d drift toward apathy or fatalistic complacency instead.
I could go on and on. For example, here are a few big ones:
If we don’t truly believe that God gave us the Bible, then nothing it says to us will ever be authoritative and binding. If we consider God to be involved with the conception and birth of every human being, then human life becomes immensely valuable. If we neglect Jesus and run to Thor or to Buddha or anywhere else, we then we can ignore his claims to deity.
Also, don’t let anyone try to divorce “theology” from the “real world” of loving people. It’s just not going to happen. In fact, the truest theologies will produce a love for people that’s real, tangible and undeniable. If you love (true) theology, then you’ll find yourself loving people in ways you never thought possible before.
(Don’t confuse loving people with always being sentimental, passive or nonthreatening. Jesus’ love for the ancient Hebrews moved Him to declare war on the Egyptian gods and their pagan devotees resulting in the miraculous Ten Plagues of Egypt, the Passover and the Exodus in general. The Lord’s love for His people both in the Old Testament and in the New prompted him to call them out on their sin – calling them vipers and snakes and bullies – so that they could wake up and turn back to Him. God’s love for us convicts us of our sin and makes our hearts come alive to Christ for the same reason.)
Here are a few examples straight from God’s Word Himself.
John 13.35 “By [obeying my commands] all people will know that you are My disciples [this is theology, Jesus was an itinerant Jewish rabbi, a teacher of God and His ways so he was summing up all he’d taught them] if you have love for one another.”
James 1.27 “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this [in other words, theology that is true and accurately reflects reality]: to look after orphans and widows in their distress [this is love] and to keep oneself unstained by the world [this is obedience to God doing what he says].
So true religion – true theological concepts – gives birth to truly loving people.
This is what God wants (hey look, it’s a statement about God, His intents and purposes, it’s theology!) and this is what it produces in some way (and every time in the Bible you’ll see something involved with love).
36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” [a theological question: what does God want from us?]
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” [and the theological answer: Love]
The great commandment is a statement about God. What does God expect and desire from human beings? To love Him with all our hearts and to love people almost just as much.
We love God by obeying Him. We love people by serving them.
Any theology that fails to do this, that fails to produce a love for people and a love for God is a false one.
So theology isn’t this monster meant to be reviled, or an ogre against whom we take up arms and fight. No, theology, as God sees it, is our friend, a confidante and guide, often a face of our Lord God Himself.
Comments by Jude