“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. (Psalm 119:18-20 ESV)
There are few things that are considered to be more romantic than a man serenading the love of his life with a song. Most wives and girlfriends would probably be thrilled by such a romantic gesture. But what if the man sang songs to his girl, but then never listened to her? What if he gushed about his love and amazement but never got to know her? The girl might rightly begin to wonder, “Does he really love me?”
If he takes no time to get to know her, to listen to her, then it will become clear over time that he doesn’t really sing because he loves her, but because he loves the idea of her. If he never listens to her fears, her dreams, her frustrations, finding out what she loves and hates, then the serenading man is singing to a symbol instead of a person.
Imagine if a man saw a photograph of a woman and he proclaimed that he loved that woman, but his knowledge of her never went beyond what could be known by the picture. Maybe she has a kind smile. Radiant eyes. Nice hair. But he can’t know whether she likes film noir, or Chinese food, or the smell of lavender, or cats or dogs. He can know true things from the picture but can he really know enough to know love?
Many Christians, perhaps most, are content with a snapshot of God. They sing songs to him, but they have little time for listening to what he has to say about himself. They have pieces of truth about him with which they are content. Maybe they fill in the blanks with things they imagine about him. For those of you that have seen Dumb & Dumber just think of Lloyd Christmas’ daydreams about Mary “Samsonite”. He had seen her, he had some interaction with her, and based on that he made up fantasies about what she was like and decided that he was in love with her when he really was in love with the idea of her.
It is absurd for a person to declare love for a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend and then never spend any time getting to know who they are.
This is the logical premise of this post. If you love God, you should care about theology.
Theology is the study of God, namely what God has made known about himself through the Scriptures. It is very possible to do theology in an unemotional, disconnected, academic environment, much like the CIA might study the minute details of the life of a person-of-interest. But that does not then negate the value and even necessity of spending time getting to know God as one who loves God.
Theology for the Christian is a labor of love. It is driven by a heart and mind that has been captivated. By the power of the Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel our eyes are opened to catch a glimpse of the glory and worth of God, the loveliness of Christ, and this sets in motion an insatiable desire to know this love. You get to know him not only as a desire of the heart, but also as a labor of the mind.
And you want to know true things about him. Imagine if I was to buy my wife a gift and I decided to get her a DVD for us to watch, Dumb and Dumber 2. If I knew my wife I would know that she can’t stand the movie. But because of my disregard for what can be known about her, I actually give her a gift that more suits my desires.
Growing in love, quite simply, requires growing in relationship according to knowledge. If people thing “I am not big into theology, I am just into a relationship with God” then they don’t understand that it is a deepening knowledge which makes their relationship meaningful and not mere illusion.
Bottom line. If you love God you should care about theology. Because it is through the study of God, through the means he has given us (the Scriptures), that we come to know God, and it is in knowing that we have genuine relationship, and it is that genuine relationship that overflows in true love… not mere fancy.
Now. What is one of the main ways we know that someone is in love? Usually we see them spending a lot of time with the person and we hear them talking about them a lot. We do this with more than just people, but with things as well. Our love is put on display.
Therefore, I would argue that if you love your neighbor, those in your sphere of influence, then you should care about theology.
Imagine that someone has a wrong impression of what your husband or wife is like. Maybe they have a negative image. Wouldn’t you want to set the record straight if you know otherwise?
What if your neighbor says, “God killing his own Son for the sins of others? That doesn’t seem fair.” Would you be able to give a truthful defense? How about this one “With all the evil in the world if there is a God then he is a monster.” How would you respond? If someone says, “I think all religions to lead to God.” Would you be able to confidently speak on the matter? Shouldn’t you desire to?
The hypothetical questions could go on and on, but these are real questions. Questions that many Christians in trying to answer them misrepresent the one they claim to love because they don’t take the time to get to know him!
If you love your neighbor you will care about theology.
King David cared about theology. Theology was not stuffy or impractical or even optional for him. In regards to his fellow man he proclaimed:
“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:4-7 ESV)
But what are those things? What is the majesty of God? What are his wondrous works? How will we declare his greatness if we don’t know what it consists of? How do we know these things? Theology. The study of God through the means he has provided!
Imagine again if my friend is looking to buy a car and I say he should get an Audi. Why? Because it is a good car. What do I mean it is a good car? I could talk about it being German made, they have cool commercials, but unless I have really searched it out and studied it, I am not speaking on any objective authority but out of hearsay. Therefore, I can only show that it is my opinion that an Audi would be a better option. When we are loving out neighbor we need to be prepared to offer them more than our opinions about God. They need truth.
I could go on, but I will stop here. Just consider these things. Before you sing or speak of God in grand generalities, consider this, “Do I know what I mean by what I sing? Do I know what I am saying about God? Is it true? Do I love my neighbor enough to give them truths over opinions? Do I love God, or just an idea about God?”
We get to know what we love and we make known what we love. Therefore, love God and love your neighbor and care about theology.