Are We Theological Gluttons?
John Piper writes, “Your mind was made to know and love God."
How can we love a God we don’t know? Or how can we know God, and not love Him? In John 17:18, Jesus said “As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” Just as Jesus was set apart for a specific mission, so now we, as His disciples, are sent on a specific mission. Jesus summarized this mission inJohn 16:28. “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” Now that He goes to the Father, He Himself sets apart, or consecrates, or sanctifies for Himself, a special people. Christians who have been taken out of the world’s citizenship to be citizens of Heaven are now sent as ambassadors of Christ back into the very world they were taken out of. Jesus verbalizes the fact that we are not meant to be removed from the world, but He prays that we would be sanctified by the TRUTH. The reason He gives is so that we can engage in mission to the world.
This is an important fact. We are not here only to be theologically correct. We may have a hunger and thirst after right doctrine; we are taught to love doctrine. Is that a problem? No! It is a wonderful thing to know the Scriptures and the things of God. We are encouraged to study in order to be approved by God and unashamed. However, if all we are is theologically correct, we can run into trouble. We can become theological gluttons. We become disobedient to the command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.
We are never called to isolate ourselves, like the monastics of old or the separatists of today. We shouldn’t just stick our mp3 sermons in our ears, read our new copy of The Institutes, and shut out the world. We are called here to engage the world. We are told that the reason we are remaining in the world is to continue the Savior’s mission of declaring the Gospel to the world. Theology must be upward to God and then outward to man.
However, we may have a tendency, on the other extreme, to engage the culture without being theological. While some will focus on theology and leave out the mission to the world, others will engage the culture but have no theology.
This is the danger: Christians who are no different from the World around them. They are so worried about engaging the culture that they change the message of the truth so as to not offend. So comes the importance of knowing theology, good theology. If all one wants to be is a part of all things here and now, without knowing the Word, without being theologically correct, without being sanctified by the Word of Truth, the problem is obviously not theological gluttony, it’s worldliness.
Paul says it directly in Romans 12. We are not to be conformed to this world. We are to be set apart. Sanctification is a call to be set apart. It is a call to mortify the flesh (the world lives for the flesh). It is a call to meditate on the Word (the world abhors the Word). It is a call to manifest Christ (the World doesn’t know Christ). Yes, we must engage the world, but we must do so in a way that is light bearing—we must take the truth of God on our belts, the righteousness of God on our breastplate, the Sword of the Spirit in our hand, and the Gospel on our feet.
Among us we have both ends of the spectrum. We may have a clear pattern one way or the other. Maybe we fluctuate between one extreme of theological isolation and the other of unbridled worldly living.
How do we remedy that in our lives? One way is to realize the issue. You may have never thought of it before. But Christ calls us to a new life of joining Him in His mission. Now that you have it clarified in your mind, you can work on the solution. If you see yourself on the extreme of being too friendly with the world, then be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Bring yourself back to the reality of godly living. Spend more time in the life-giving, life-transforming Word of God. Take a systematic theology class offered by TGC Hawaii! Theology is important. Your thinking does affect the way you live. If you only feed the flesh, it is hard to think as a Christian. But if you spend time in the Word, the Spirit of Truth will renew your mind.
If you see yourself at the other extreme, and you are not engaging the culture, never talking to non-Christians intentionally about the things of God, then make a plan to change. Why are we so afraid to proclaim the truth when what we have in our hand and know by faith, is the transforming, life-giving Word of Almighty God?
“Your mind was made to know and love God.” Know Him, and share Him with the world.