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Our theology and our life
- Jacob Ninan
We shouldn't assume that theology is only for the Bible colleges and those who train to 'serve' God, because our theology is simply our understanding of God, and that determines how we live. To take an extreme example, those who believe in the evolution of life from inorganic substances do not have to consider God as someone they have to give an account to. Somebody has pointed out that from the 1960s when evolution began to be taught in schools, morality has taken a nosedive.
It's not that Christians who believe in the Bible revelation of God are exempt from such aberrations. Many of us know how we have imagined God as a hard taskmaster waiting to pounce upon us whenever we fell, and considered any calamity as an expression of His wrath. We have actually taken this view from parts of the Bible!
On the other hand we may have thought of God as an indulgent grandfather who smiles faintly at His naughty kids (even when we kids have tried to 'cheat' Him!). This imagination has helped us to take sin lightly, take forgiveness for granted and stray far away from God's paths. By this we also forfeit the ability to assess or say that certain things others do are wrong!
The mistake is to consider only one side of God's character to the neglect of others. If we think that God is a consuming fire (De.4:24) and does not take into account His compassion and longsuffering (Ex.34:6) we go wrong. If we think of God only as love (1Jn.4:16) but not as light (in which there is no darkness) (1Jn.1:5) we get lopsided. We need to understand Him as kind (to an immeasurable degree) and severe (in the right proportion) in the same Person (Ro.11:22). God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin but He will not let the guilty go unpunished (Ex.34:6,7). (Under the new covenant we need to understand that while our punishment has already been taken away because Jesus took that on Himself, we will be subject to God's loving discipline as His children - He.12:6-8).
Whenever we go wrong in our practical life or the choices we make, behind it is a wrong theology. Therefore Bible studies are not only for those who have a lot of time to spare(!), but for all of us who need changes in our thoughts, attitudes, words and behaviour. When we really know our God better, our life will change.
Let us also consider the possibility that we are quite capable of keeping our theology and our life in separate compartments. Then we are like those who 'heard the word' but did not act on them (Mt.7:26). But that actually shows that we have only come to know about Him from others but we don't know Him personally ourselves. When we want to be wise we will act upon what we come to know about God (Mt.7:24). This will be a lifelong process of getting to know God and being transformed into His image. Let us make that our way of life.