Theology is for Everyone

To most Christians, the idea of learning “Theology” is an overwhelming and daunting suggestion. “I’m not a scholar,” or “I’m not interested in working for a Ph.D” is a very common thought process that shuts the door on the subject.

However, Theology is NOT just a scholar’s domain. The learning and the application of Theology to our own heart, mind, and daily life is of the utmost godly value!

“Theology”—though it does include some branches with extremely deep waters—is basically the study of God: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, and how He interacts with humanity. Every believer who is committed to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior needs to know as much as they can from the scriptures about their God.

As attenders of [good] churches, we have a tremendous number of opportunities to grow in our knowledge about God (“Theology”) so that we can also grow in knowing Him personally. Faulty thinking about who God is and how He interacts with humanity leaves us very, VERY susceptible to failures and deceptions.

The writer to the Hebrews (most consider this author to be the Apostle Paul, as do I) was teaching and developing their understanding of God and their walking through life in the Spirit of Jesus. Here is what he summarizes as being the foundation or elementary teachings [of Theology] that every believer SHOULD have well established so they can build and grow the rest of their life.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”‭‭

( Hebrews‬ ‭6:1-2 )

Unfortunately, there are too many believers who have had their faith in Christ for 10, 20, or 30 years, but their maturity in truly knowing the things of God and living a godly life are at an “elementary” level. Using a school analogy, by now they should be graduates, instead they are repeating the 1st Grade over and over, not having grasped the basics and not yet demonstrated a practical proficiency in godly knowledge, wisdom, and behavior.

To be clear, though I used a school analogy, growing in Theology is not necessarily about formal academics. It is about growing in the personal study of God’s scripture, and the prayerful application of the scriptures to personal and daily life.

“Let us go on to perfection” means to grow in maturity. It means to shed more and more imperfection, and to draw closer and closer to Christ and the perfection He represents.
Most of us will never be “Theologians” in an academic setting with a Ph.D next to our name, but each of us should be growing in our Theology of God. Anything less than our constant growth in our knowledge of God is not part of God’s great plan for our life. Let’s be sure, every day, that we progressively “go on to perfection” in Him.

See you at the altar of Christ as we read the scriptures, pray, and build each other up in the Theology of our great God.

#PastorsTip

Shrewd Like Serpents & Doves

Do you have “street smarts” that have been developed and sharpened by the Holy Spirit? Do have a grasp on how the real world is functioning, or do you have a closed-eyes approach to navigating this fallen world?

Jesus spoke several times about having a shrewd perspective, understanding, and practice in the real world.

“’… For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.’”

~ Luke‬ ‭16:8‬‬‬‬

Some believe (erroneously) that being “street smart” and “shrewd” does not fit the Sunday School-level concept of real life that they hold to dearly. Their approach remains simplistic, binary, and linear. They assume that being “shrewd” means being unChrist-like and compromising on what is clearly right and wrong.

However, the scriptures both commend and condemn shrewdness on the basis of its context, like motives and actions, and not outright as always being inherently right or wrong. Let’s consider the biblical subject of shrewdness.

Biblical Language Definition of Shrewdness :
  • Astuteness or craftiness in dealings with others, especially in using one’s understanding and judgment to one’s own advantage.
  • Scripture commends it when it is seen in wise words and actions directed towards a worthy goal, but
  • Scripture condemns it when it takes the form of cunning and deceitful scheming for sinful and selfish ends.

~ Dictionary of Bible Themes (Martin H. Manser, Managing Editor)

Jesus’ Call for Us to be Shrewd

Jesus shines His light on the subject, calling for His disciples (i.e. us) to be shrewd (intelligent, tactile, strategic, wise, and understanding human nature) while remaining innocent (a no-compromise life in regard to what is right and wrong).

“’I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’”

~ Matthew‬ ‭10:16‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Being shrewd is where a person looks at a world-minded human being or group, anticipates their course of action, and then plans their own wisdom-based strategic actions accordingly (without compromising righteousness).

The shrewdness of a snake is referred to, and a dove as being innocent. A common mistake is to misunderstand Jesus’ use of the snake analogy: He is encouraging us to be shrewd like a snake without being a snake, to be shrewd in the right way with the innocence and righteousness of a dove.

If you have thought of “shrewd” as always being wrong and worldly, please consider rebuilding your definition of shrewd, and begin to be more clever and wise with “street smarts.” Pray for God to lead you in developing a godly use of shrewdness that is wisdom-based and that you will use it with godly motives and godly actions.

Shrewdness in Political Season

During this election season, if after praying you do not receive a clear direction from the Lord in your heart as to who should receive your vote, consider looking at the big picture with an eye to exercising godly shrewdness.

Our single vote for president has more impact than just for one candidate. Our single vote can also be used shrewdly as a simultaneous vote against another candidate. This is strategic and shrewd, but only if the vote is applied to a particular candidate.

No, I’m not condoning voter fraud. Vote once, and only once! But our single vote can provide more influence upon the outcome if we cast our vote shrewdly, cunningly, and wisely.

Have I said who to vote for? No. However, if while reading the above paragraphs on shrewdness in voting you seemed to clearly see a potential candidate that fits the picture, perhaps you are having a “shrewd” moment of clarity, and not just a “David” moment through the “power of suggestion.” Let’s vote prayerfully, vote our conscience, and of course let’s vote strategically.

Developing a Shrewd Perceptiveness

Beyond the political election season, consider developing a shrewd-with-innocence perceptiveness and practice at home, at work, and in society. It may take time to change your way of seeing things in the light of shrewdness, but ask the Lord to help you be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). Ask Him to help you become shrewd in the way that He intended when He says, “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves’” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭10:16‬‬‬‬‬‬‬).‬‬‬

image-5

#PastorsTip #Shrewd #Wise #Clever #Astute #Snakes #Doves #Righteous #Innocent #Vote #Elections #Politics