Many times I've watched people guide others by handing them the turn-by-turn directions and pointing them in the direction they need to go. Two things instantly enter my mind - 1. That person has no clue what they're looking for as far as an indication of the turn and 2. who's leading who in that group? At the end of the day we all make it to camp, but some find it more frustrating than others.
Take for example the group that was handed the turn-by-turn directions and kindly pointed in the right direction. More often than not they had a frustrating day of missed turns, confusion on how far until the next turn, and the classic blind leading the blind. *Note - Sometimes this leads to good stories, and we all get a good laugh at the end of the day.
What I'm getting at is this. When we kindly hand a person a map and nudge them in the right direction we are "imperfectly pointing" them in the direction we intend for them to go. Instead of just "imperfectly pointing" them in the direction we intend them to go we walk along side them. Two people imperfectly figuring out the way.
You might be wondering why I keep using "imperfectly pointing." This term is used to describe theology. When we use theology, we are "imperfectly (aka sinners) pointing" toward the perfect One (aka God). I know... I used the word "theology." Don't tune out yet. Hang in there with me.
Theology is what gives life to our faith in Christ - Christ calls all of us to believe in Him and professes His name (Romans 10:9). Professing His name aka theology or God-talk is our attempt at sharing with people, or describing, His character, acts, and will.
Growing up in a Christian home, I attended church every Sunday and went to youth group on Wednesday. At a certain point in my teenage years, I felt the pressure of "imperfectly pointing." People were telling me what to believe, but they weren't coming alongside and guiding me towards what God calls us to. They were using the knowledge they gained from studying His Word to form their theology ways we needed to believe in Him. They weren't humbly guiding us in the way of His character, acts, and will. If we want people to understand theology - the heartbeat of our faith - then we must humbly walk alongside people.
In his write up - Theology Is for the Humble, Brandon D. Smith points out:
Every Christian should care about theology. Doing theology is seeking to know and love God better, and using that knowledge to know and love others better. When we tell someone, “You are a sinner, but Christ loves you and died for you,” we should do so humbly. Christ has been gracious to involve us in his mission, not only exhorting us to “go” but promising he “will be with us always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Here are three tips Brandon gives for Learning God-Talk aka Theology:
1. There is no such thing as a presupposition-free theology.
We all bring contextual baggage to the text, interpreting through particular lenses and with predetermined biases. We do all we can to be objective, but we must understand that we don’t read the Bible in a vacuum. This means we need to be aware of and honest about our blind spots.
2. There is no such thing as a perfect theology.
Nobody, nowhere has it all figured out. The reason there are seemingly endless theological systems and nuances is because nobody’s theology is inerrant. The mantra “always reforming” should be actually true for us. This means we should always be willing to be wrong and to learn from others, since we’ll never “arrive.”
3. There is no such thing as a “personal” theology.
Theology is not kept to ourselves and shouldn’t be kept to ourselves. First of all, our words and actions reflect our theology. Good theology creates good ethics. You can’t hide bad theology. Second, if theology is about God, then it should be shared. As ministers of reconciliation, messengers of good news, we shouldn’t hide our theology under a bowl. Rather, our theology should convict and drive us toward a lived-out faith. This means we need to be careful what we believe and how we speak as we imperfectly point toward the perfect One.
Our challenge is this: For us to break through the walls that people are putting up against Christianity we must take note of what Brandon is suggesting. We have to approach people humbly to gain their trust. In doing so, they will allow us to speak to them about God. Don't approach them with a list of To Do's or acceptance is granted only if you do (insert demand here). Instead, take to heart the three learning points on God-talk and approach Christ for guidance, understanding, and compassion as we "imperfectly point" (attempt to describe His character, acts, and will) to the perfect One.
Thanks and God Bless!