By Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
Do you know that you are a theologian? We all are. Everyone, everywhere is thinking about God in one way or another. That’s what theology is: “thinking about God.” Even the atheist can only identify himself as such by thinking about that which he refuses to acknowledge—God.
And what we think determines how we act. Though we often say we “act without thinking,” nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever comes out of us, in deed or creed, is really that which is already in us. Therefore, it is imperative that we put into our minds and souls the things of God. This is what Paul had in mind in his admonition to the church in Philippi:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
We are constantly inundated with information, and it is often difficult to determine truth from lies. Paul’s solution is a simple one. Think upon the things of God. The good things. Things which God reveals in His Word that give life, hope, and a future. These things become the framework around which we understand God and His character. When we immerse our minds in the things of God, we develop a theological worldview where God is rightly placed at the center of everything. He is creator, sustainer, investor, and writer of human history – a history with a determined end and purposeful progression towards His glory and our joy.
For some, thinking about God can be difficult or even troublesome. Our understanding of God is skewed by experiences in our lives or by relationships with our parents or respected elders. Others have difficulty because they view God as the great killjoy in the sky, always wanting to punish or prevent any “fun” they might have. How we think about God matters and determines how we live.
In a book entitled Doing Theology with Huck and Jim: Parables for Understanding Doctrine, Mark Shaw reimagines the classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a theological journey. His two characters climb aboard a raft and head down the river, hoping for a life free of restraint:
After a time Huck spoke up. “What’d you bring for food? I’m hungry.”
Jim unwrapped his bedroll. His worldly wealth was contained in it. Immediately it was all laid out in full view. There was a hat and some fruit, a pair of socks, a rabbit’s foot and a book. Jim tossed Huck a piece of fruit.
“What’d you bring a book for?” asked Huck with a tone of irritation.
“T’ read . . . what else a book good for?”
“What kinda book is it?” Huck asked.
“Book ‘bout theology,” Jim said, his voice trailing away.
“Theology! I hate theology almost as much as I hate schools and rules,” Huck said, and emphasized the point by spitting into the river.
“What good is theology book on a trip like this?”
Jim was silent for a long time before he answered. “Trip like this is long. Lotta things gonna happen. Might come in handy.”
Indeed, “lotta things gonna happen” in life. When life turns from pleasure to pain, or from certainty to uncertainty, we need good theology. In those crucible moments, what we believe about God, His character, and His power will greatly impact our ability to endure the difficulty as a “light and momentary affliction.” How can we do that? Because we know that it “is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
How is your theology impacting your view of the world and how you live your life each day? Are you empowered to persevere in Him because you are confident He is good and faithful? Or are you inclined to run to lesser pleasures, easy rebellions, or quick fixes that medicate, but never satiate, your longings? Think about God – think deeply, intentionally, and purposefully. Allow the words of Scripture to be the foundation upon which you develop your ideas of Him, and watch how it changes the way you live!