“As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation – a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT)
What you believe shapes the person you are and are becoming. That’s true if you’re a child of the living God, a Hindu, Mormon, atheist, or anything else. Theology literally means “words of God” or “words about God,” but for our purposes it refers to your convictions related to what you believe about God.
One of the first words that comes to my mind when I think of theology is “discussion.” To me theology is often something we discuss, but why? Largely because thoughts of theology give rise to one of two things: beliefs upon which we agree or beliefs upon which we disagree. We love to share what we “know” theologically or seek to “correct” those with whom we disagree.
A few weeks ago, I was able to connect with one of our Pastors for whom I have great respect because I believe he’s a student of the Bible. While together I asked him about a couple of theological issues with which I wrestle regarding Salvation and our life in Christ. I listened carefully, believing what I was hearing was from the Lord.
He explained how he saw the issues and it made sense to me. Compare that with a meal I shared with another person who took offense to my questions and responded with anger. What’s the difference? Largely, I believe, their respective levels of spiritual maturity. My Pastor has researched and come to his own conclusions based on the facts that make sense to him.
My other friend has largely adopted the beliefs of others and gets very defensive when anyone questions those beliefs, because at his core he has adopted a series of beliefs, not a system of theology that defines him as a believer. What’s the difference?
Information, whether it’s theological or instructions on how to change the oil in your car, informs – it gives guidance that can be accepted and followed or not. A system of thought, whether based on Theology or atheism, is a set of beliefs upon which we build our life. The implication is that we’ve researched and deduced what we genuinely believe at the core of our being. In short, it’s who we are.
Kelly Kapic wrote: “One of the greatest dangers in theology is making our faith something we discuss rather than something that moves us.” He makes a valid observation. I can discuss ideas all day and not be moved emotionally, but my theology, what I believe about God is the basis upon which I build my life. It’s the foundation upon which I build my hope of eternal life. It’s what informs the decisions I make that guide the person I’m becoming.
But please understand. Because it’s life or death for me doesn’t imply I can’t have a discussion with someone without getting emotional. Yes, of course, it’s a matter of the heart for me, but if I get angry with everyone who disagrees with me, I’ll never lead anyone to Jesus.
The person I mentioned above who became so angry with me is a believer and I respect their beliefs and believe they’re genuinely saved, but I’m not going to lose a friend because we disagree over a point of doctrine. We must agree to disagree.
My point here is that what you believe about God should move you to your core. It must become for us the proverbial “hill” upon which we’re willing to die rather than deny, but not use as a hammer to beat people with whom we disagree.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊