“I already believe in Jesus. Why do I need to read my Bible and go to church?”
This is becoming one of the most popular questions in our culture. Many of us are asking it, even if only in our hearts. With so many things to do, see, and take care of daily, we find ourselves in triage mode.
We want to put our time and energy into the people and activities that are most important to us, and if we’re honest, religious practices are becoming less important to some of us. That doesn’t mean we’re bad people! We still love God and want to follow Jesus. However, as we assess where to put resources, many of us have developed a “check box” mentality toward our faith.
If we’ve made the heart commitment, we see no problem putting our time and energy into other activities instead of regular church attendance or daily spiritual disciplines. So, why invest time in further understanding the dept and berth of faith and theology?
Well, think of it like this: life is like a voyage on the open sea, and a good understanding of who God is (theology) is like our compass. We want to enjoy the journey, but we also want to end up hitting land on the other side. Being just a few degrees off on our navigation can take us hundreds of miles off course over the length of the journey. For example, suppose we rightly believe that God loves us unconditionally but forget the importance that He is holy. In that case, we live lives full of grace but absent of the righteous fear that compels us to moral living.
There is a balance in the personality and personhood of Yehweh: He does love us no matter what, but He is also a real, living being who deserves respect and reverence. Two things happen immediately when we only accept one part of His personality and reject the other.
1) We depersonalize Him by editing what we believe to be true about Him. He’s revealed himself to us – we don’t get to change his personality! Doing so affects our relationship with Him because we start to treat Him like a philosophy that we can change instead of accepting Him for who He has revealed Himself to be. Essentially, we start to remake Him in our own image.
And more practically, 2) we start to live like there are no consequences. Indeed, God will always forgive and welcome us back into a relationship, but there’s always a cost to veering off course, even just a degree or two. It affects our relationship with Him, how we treat others, and we will miss opportunities to partner with God in bringing His Kingdom to earth. This is just one example, but you can dive deeper into the topic of fearing God through John Bevere’s study called Awe of God.
What other conscious or unconscious beliefs are guiding your choices? Regularly reading the Bible, studying other’s work about theology, and gathering with a faith community for continued growth helps us stay on course, to enjoy the journey with Jesus, and to end up where we really want to go. Here’s a great article about three other practical and impotent theologies to get right in our lives.