Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
Last night my wife and I discovered something. Well, in truth, she discovered it and said it and then we both discussed it to try and reason it out; to make sure it was right. And I think it was. I don’t remember exactly the way she said it or the precise words she used. Like I said, as soon as she said it we started discussing it. And it came out of a conversation we were already in the midst of. The basic premise of what she said was this: Theology is not as much as we make it out to be. It doesn’t do everything we expect it to do for us.
Now, before you start preparing an angry comment or start reminding yourself that you’ve been meaning to quit reading this amateur writing anyway, walk with me for a minute. Let me share with you the context and realizations behind what I’m saying here. And if you still don’t like it? Well, my wife said it, not me. (That’s a joke folks. I imagine what you’ll find is that my wife is a wise woman.)
Theology literally comes from two words. “Theo” meaning God and “logy” meaning word or explanation. So theology is literally “words about God.” Did you get that? Words about God. Essentially, theology is the study of God. Now, please understand, I love theology. I do. And my wife and I were in the midst of a theological study when this conversation took place. We value theology and recognize its need. Theology keeps us from embracing false doctrine and equips us to understand the basic truths about God. But theology isn’t relationship. And I think that’s where the issue lies.
So many of us Christians have replaced genuine relationship with God solely with a dependence on theology. We study about God, but don’t know him. We read arguments about the finer points and the debatable issues regarding God and we feel equipped to engage anyone on those confusing theological topics. But do we know him? We spend such minimal time talking directly to him. Even less time sitting still and listening to him.
Theology is not as much as we make it out to be. It doesn’t do everything we expect it to do for us.
Theology isn’t relationship. Theology is a stepping stone to knowing God, but it isn’t knowing him. Theology is critical information about God. It should shape our expectations and our actions. It should define our understanding of God’s character and what he expects of us. It will shape our relationship, but it cannot be our relationship with God.
Knowing lots of Scripture and the reasoning behind the doctrines is really important. I’m not criticizing or saying we don’t need those things. But I do believe we have to keep them in proper perspective. There is no replacement for time spent listening to the Spirit speak. Walking with God is not equal to walking with books about God.
Do your studying. Invest in understanding about God. It is vital. But invest more time in God himself. Knowing him, not just what others say about him.