Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY
Well, it could be.
I know several folks who choose a word as their theme for each year. I’ve done it myself. One year my word was “Discipline”. I know others who’ve chosen words like “Happiness” or “Deliberateness”. It’s kind of a nice substitute to the seldom-kept New Year’s Resolution.
May I suggest the word THEOLOGY as your word for this next year? I think I’m going to make it mine. It’s probably not the first word that might occur to you as an underlying theme for your life for the next 360+ days, but here’s why I think it should be:
1. WE NEED SMARTER CHRISTIANS.
I swear I’m not impugning your Christian IQ! But as I’ve looked around this year, I’ve seen instance after instance of Christians who either don’t know what they believe, or why they believe it. People claim deep seeded values and practices based on their faith, but they don’t have the understanding that goes with it! Theology is the deliberate work of understanding God, God’s people, and God’s creation.
2. WE NEED A ROAD MAP FOR OUR ROAD MAP.
To be effective in ministry, we’ve got to know where we should be going and what we should be doing. That’s what the Bible is for, right? Absolutely, but there is so much history, translation, literary criticism, and deep symbolism involved that we need a road map to help us read our road map. Theology helps us understand the Bible with more clarity, depth and meaning.
3. WE NEED AN INFORMED ETHIC.
Christians, at our worst, spout values and morals with little thought to the ethical system behind them. Jesus taught an ethic of service, acceptance, obedience, and action that calls for deeper refection than many of us give. The more we study God, the stronger a foundation we have to launch our work in the world.
4. WE NEED MYSTERY.
I think the worst Christians are know-it-alls. As if every question has been answered, and every shadow has been illuminated. Not so! The greatest theologians in history published volumes and volumes of their systematic theologies, but that did not mean they’ve “solved” theology. There’s always more to understand about God. There are theological concepts, problems, and approaches that you and I have never pondered. These mysteries give a robustness to our faith, and challenge us as believers!
5. WE NEED THEOLOGY IN OUR DEVOTION.
After writing these devotions for some fifteen + years, I look back at my writings and see too many of them summed up with a simple “God is Love” punchline. While I suppose my faith could be summarized in those three words, there is so much more to say. To that end, I plan to engage a deeper level of theology in my work going forward. I want to share more study of this learning, direction, ethic, and mystery in my life and my work.
How about you? No matter what Word you pick (or don’t pick) for 2018, you can choose to be resolute in your journey to know God, God’s people, and God’s creation.
Remember, the only qualification for being a Theologian…
is being a Curious Christian.
Have a great week,
(If you’re interested in a place to start, here’s a bit of United Methodist theology: A Few Methodist Basics)