I’m majoring in theology at Seattle Pacific University. To me, this means that I find Jesus fascinating and I want to learn more about the nature of God and what it means to essentially be a Christ follower. I think it’s about owning your faith and learning to give it away. What I’ve found though is that it’s not as easy at it sounds.
It seems easy to write scholarly essays on Jesus and the genesis of Christianity, and to a certain degree it is, but it’s equally easy to be a theologian at the expense of relationship. For example, it would be wrong for me to study every book of the Bible, know scripture front and back, and fail to live in the vibrancy of the Spirit in my normal day-to-day life. In this case, I’m missing the point of scripture, which is, without doubt, to love the people around you and act on that love (enter scriptural evidence). What I mean when I say, “Act” is essentially to be apart of the teaching ministry of Christ because what is Christianity without educational ministry?
It’s become very clear to me that as a Christian I am also a teacher. It is my duty as a child of God to speak about my faith, and perhaps even more essential, to live out my faith—that’s the teaching ministry. If we as Christians became so ingrown that we never spoke about our faith with non-Christians, then we would be doing little to nothing to bring about the kingdom of God on earth. See, this is what I see to be one of the major shortcomings of the teaching ministry of the Church. We’ve forgotten to live out our faith. I think we’re embarrassed about it. I feel like I’m fresh from an oracle and it says, “You can no longer shirk sharing your life, full-on and in love through Jesus Christ.” For some reason Christians are looked down upon as if we are choosing to live a hollow life. I’ve heard countless people say, “I’m not a Christian because I need fun in my life.” Sure, we live on this side of the fall and imperfect human beings lead the teaching ministry, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we as Christians have failed big time at showing to non-Christians that living out our faith is awesome and life giving. It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly not the catalyst for a monotonous lifestyle. We can’t forget that the reality of faith is in lifestyle just as it was in the Old Testament with the first century church.
I think the tendency is to leave our faith at the door when we should be taking it out into the world with us and into our work places so that the spirit of God can flow out of us and into others. Going back to my field of study at SPU, I’ve found it’s easier to sit in isolation and study the canon that is scripture, than to study the Bible within the context of community. However, I’ve been learning about the significance of community in mediating God to others in that God’s body is useless if we’re not engaging the community and all it’s parts. One of the primary reasons people leave church is because they wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity that they experience from the people around them when, really, Christianity should be inclusivity at its best.
Lastly, God has never stopped disclosing Himself. One of the main reasons we know this is with natural theology (nature). It’s all around us. Just look out your window or take a walk amongst the trees. Love is all around us waiting to be seen. We walk into the forest and we ask ourselves theological questions such as, “Do I see the importance of the individual systematic teaching of doctrine? Do I see the importance of knowing scripture as a whole narrative that goes together?” Ultimately, the Bible has to be put back in to the equation, but my prayer is that I won’t study theology at the expense of relationship.