Sitting in the lounge of a dorm floor a few years ago I heard a stressed out student preparing for a theology final exclaim, “Ugh why do we have to discuss all these details? It’s not that big of a deal anyway.”
No. Theology is important.
Theology is the study of God. We study God so that we can know Him. Theology is not some big and scary subject that only the academic elite can afford to tackle. Rather it is something so fundamental to life that anyone and everyone should participate. The “study of God” is something that is open to everyone.
God Himself encourages this study in His word. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of passages explaining the benefits of knowing God. John 17:3 talks about the eternal life that is found in knowing God. Similarly, Jeremiah talks about how God is available to those who seek Him. The list could go on and on. God wants people to know exactly who He is.
God delights when we study Him.
“But why? Can’t we just love Him?” Well, no. It is impossible to truly love someone without having some understanding of who they are. Someone once said to me, “I don’t read the Bible, and I stopped praying long ago, but I still very much love God.” I tried my best to respond graciously, but the only thing I could think to say is, “how do you love someone who you never communicate with?”
It is easy enough to say we “love” things. I love coffee. I love donuts. I love the Chicago Bears. It is easy to say we love those things because they are just that…things. But God is not a thing. He is not an idea or a construction of our minds. God is a real being who loves us dearly and desires a real relationship with us. In order to love Him back, we must know who He is. We wouldn’t stay in a long-term relationship with someone whom we never talked to, would we? Why would we try to get away with that with God?
Jesus told His disciples that if they loved Him they would keep His commandments. (John 14:15) The only way the disciples (or we for that matter) can keep His commandments is by knowing what they are.
The two most frequent Greek words used for “to know” in the New Testament are the words oida and ginosko. There are several differences between the two words, but for simplicity sake, we will just say that oida generally refers to an intellectual knowledge, while ginosko speaks more of an experiential knowledge. It is one thing to know and study God on an intellectual level, it is another thing to know Him because of experiences had through prayer and reading of His Word.
So let’s do that. Let’s know God experientially. Let’s seek Him, study Him, spend time with Him, talk to Him, and talk about Him. Let’s know Him so that we can love Him.
Till next time,