Theology: Intellectual or Practical?

Jared HuckstepDaily Word

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having coffee with someone who has recently joined us at Indy Metro. She is a young professional and fresh out of college, a few months into her first job. Although the conversation covered a lot of ground, one thing that she said really stuck with me. She said…

“Something is really bothering me. If you asked me while I was in college, I would have said ‘I value personal growth and transformation more than I do money and security’ but as I look at how things have been going and why I am stressed out with my job, it seems like I value money and security more than I thought.”

I was very encouraged by the amount of self-reflection she is doing – it encouraged me to get back to this practice myself. I was able to easily identify with her because I know exactly what it feels like to want to live a certain way but feel trapped in a different way of living. Although she doesn’t realize it, the fact that she is asking these questions and is aware of what is going on in her heart is a great sign.

Many times, we walk around trapped in these paradoxes completely unaware, all the while feeling deep inside that something really is off. I’m partially envious that she is able to put words to what she feels is not right!

See, her comment may be a perfect illustration of our biggest problem as followers of Jesus.  We believe the right things about Christ but how often do our beliefs show up practically in our lives?

My friend truly believes that personal transformation and growth are more important than money and security but she has found herself in the opposite rhythm, wanting to please every one else – her bosses, her co-workers, etc – in order to keep her job and her salary. From her own words, she isn’t asking herself, “How should I behave at my job so that I grow and change? What is the right thing to do?” Instead, she is finding herself constantly asking, “How should I behave so that people around me are happy? How do I keep my job, my security, my money?” Things that she knows are important like rest, exercise, relationships have all taken a backseat in this season of her life… and it’s driving her crazy.

How often do we, as Christians, say things like, “Jesus is the most important thing in my life.” And we truly believe this, don’t we? We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord of the Universe, our only hope of salvation. But we feel torn in the depths of our souls because how we handle our time, our money, our purposes in our neighborhoods and jobs doesn’t seem like our practical lives are saying “Jesus is the most important thing in my life.” If anything, our lives scream “I am the most important thing in my life but I am glad that Jesus is around to keep me out of hell.”

See the question we need to face is not do we believe the right things. The question we need to face is are we living out the things we believe in a practical and visible way?

As the authors of the book “Total Church” put it…

The theology that matters is not the theology we profess but the theology we practice.

More importantly, as God puts it…

James 2:14 – 19 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

So I encourage all of us, let’s take an inventory today… What do you truly believe about Jesus in your mind? Would your life answer that question the same way? If not, will you repent? Will you do something this week to take a step in the right direction of having your life confess Jesus?