Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tiny Boxes

Perhaps the problem isn't so much what I DO know about my faith, but what I DON'T. That is, most of us don't have a giant catechism. Perhaps we hold to a creed or confession, but the rest is written up & approved by councils or general assemblies or the like. Or maybe there's nothing written down... No matter what denomination we associate with, we tend to get our guidance from a group of overseers as well as preachers itinerant or otherwise, via all forms of media, old & new. But where does love actually figure in? And who has the right interpretation of the Bible anyway? I'm not talking translations or versions here, I'm talking theology. How is it we can have centuries of seminarians from so many traditions with pretty much the same kinds of divinity degrees & Ph.D's, who can't come into agreement? Is it enough to agree to disagree? Theology seems a necessary "evil" to guard against false teaching, but it can also be a roadblock when that's all that guides your faith.

If you've grown up in the faith, its assumed that you know what you believe because you've been exposed to the plethora of theology available to you. You should be solid, ready for ministry. But I think that's a fatal assumption. I don't think the disconnect happens so much with the intellect as it does with the lack of experience. I'm not referring to being in church, completing Bible studies, attending prayer meetings or even going on missions trips. I'm talking more about personal discipleship- living out one's faith in daily life; not to be a part of a church, not to save souls, not to be assured of your place in heaven, but for the genuine love of God. When I begin to live out of that kind of love, theology admittedly blurs a little. I feel like I'm just now coming to understand what I believe & why. Its not that I lacked the resources to know what I believed previously... the difference is in the striving to live a life of discipleship- indeed, rooted & grounded in love- instead of living for acceptance or the hope of merit from my fellow Christians. I realize I might not be in perfect agreement with either a Protestant or Catholic viewpoint at this moment in my journey, but if I'm not living out of love, neither of these matter. I'm simply not living. Church affiliation, labels & even theology are worthless if I don't have love. I'm not very good at it yet, but I want to get better. I'm not abandoning the fundamentals of the cross, just the tiny boxes I kept each fractured piece in.

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