Know what you believe: What does your God look like? (theology)

given on Sunday, September 18, 2016

Scripture connections:

  • Genesis 1-2:4
  • John 1:1-5
  • Revelation 1:4-8

 

This week the moon reached its full glory: The Harvest Moon according to the calendar. Stepping out at 2:08 in the morning, I witnessed the Harvest Moon in a unique setting.

Fog was moving in on the ridge and I could literally hear it. I could not see any stars but the moon was shining so much that the fog acted like it was trying to sneak around.

Looking around the back yard, I could hear little sounds as though it was trying to rain, but it wasn’t. I watched the fog creep in. With it came the tiny little clicks, yet there were no drops of rain and the moon lit up the yard so clearly that I began to see the fog moving in closer.

These moments in nature bring me closer to God than any other time. I can sense the presence and witness the awe of creation, knowing God is with me. As I stood watching and listening, the eeriness of the scene might frighten one, but I was frozen in fascination. God created all of this and I am blessed to be part of it.

God is life. God is love. God is the beginning and the end not to mention all that is in between. God identified himself as I Am. God is The Word. God is the Alpha and the Omega. God is Jesus Christ. God is the Holy Spirit. And I am part of it all.

The full moon at 2:08 in the morning shown at 4:08 in the morning just as brilliantly as it did earlier, but this time no fog. This time it shone through the closed blind in the dining room enough that I could put out the pet food with no other light. God is always present much like the full moon during the night.

At times like this, I know I need to sleep but the world is so alive and so private to me. The early morning hours are fresh; the mind has slept enough to be crisp, too. And in the quiet of our busy world, I am in the presence of God. How can anyone question the omnipotence of God the creator?

Knowing what one believes releases that person to be fully part of God’s world. Witnessing God in the manner that best matches any one of us independently is God’s presence in our lives. For me, the early mornings before the world wakes up is holy.

Yes, my body needs sleep and I am cranky when it seems the pets are demanding more than I want to give at that very moment. Yes, I wish I could sleep another uninterrupted hour or so. Yes, I fuss because I am up and ready for the day to begin even though no one else is. But, when I am honest, these early, early morning hours are my best moments with God.

Do you know what you believe? Do you know when and where you are truly with God? Do you let God speak to you?

Turning to scripture, I often struggle to find clarity in the words. Yet each time I tackle a reading, I find wisdom. I read the study notes and discover new ways of thinking about the verses. After witnessing the moon and the fog, I woke up later with words dancing in my mind: I Am. The Alpha and the Omega. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

And, then I saw the light of the moon shining even more brightly because the fog was gone. God is with me. God speaks to me even as I feed the pets, turn on the lights, and open the door to listen more closely.

Theology is a word scholars use to categorize the study of God. Yet theology is not simply a study, it is a format for any of us trying to learn more about God. Theology can be God in our lives. In fact, one source defines theology as how God works through Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

Consider this quote:

 

If faith is the direct response to the hearing of God’s word of grace and judgment, theology is the subsequent but necessary reflection of the church on its language and practice of faith. (Migliore, p2)

 

With that definition of theology, each one of us is a theologian. We are all responding to God in a way that makes sense to each one of us. The key to following God is how we use God’s direction in our lives right here, right now.

God is. God creates. God loves. God gives us grace. Whether or not we can explain our personal theology, we live it. We are God’s creation even though we altar our own world in so many different ways, and we tend to make mistakes. God’s grace is ever present, also.      Whether we recognize our errors or not determines the closeness we experience to God. When we do wrong, we must recognize the error, talk to God, ask for forgiveness, accept God’s grace, and then resume life in a Christ-like manner.

Personally, I accept God’s reality when I witness the glory of creation. As I attempt to understand my personal theology, I must admit that nature speaks to me. I see God’s wonder in the world he created. I understand that this world we live in is ever changing. I appreciate that God’s creation included the possibilities of evolving naturally or evolving through any realm of reasons due to human interaction with other humans or animals or any other facet of this world in which we live.

Why do we think that God is not part of science? God is in all that exists in this world. God created a world with all the possibilities that life can and will change. The fact that God created caretakers for this world shows that as a creator change would occur. The caretakers may have received instructions, but even the caretakers had freedom to think.

Scholars have categorized theology into a study of God with a range of perspectives. Creation theology is just one that speaks to me personally. It helps me to understand how humans are simply part of this world and we have a way of messing it up but also of preserving and even improving it.

Theological studies include various methods to understand how God is part of our lives. Biblical theology in emphasizes how the recorded stories and words explain God. Historical theology follows the Christian story through time, people and place. Philosophical theology tracks the various ways people have reasoned and explained Christianity experience. Practical theology analyzes the practices of the church, including the different forms of ministry. And there is the systematic theology. Systematic theology might be viewed as a broader study as it includes “. . . rethinking and reinterpreting the doctrines and practices of the church in the light of what the church itself avows to be of central importance—namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ that liberates and renews life.” (Migliore, p 11)

Knowing what you believe is not necessarily easy, but it makes understanding how God works in your life much clearer. We struggle to manage our daily lives, but knowing God is present with us through these daily struggles defines the quality of our life. Once we are comfortably living our theology, we also become God’s presence in this world for others.

Knowing what you believe, beginning with the Triune God and then on through how God works in our world, brings us closer to God. Living the Christian lifestyle also puts us into an outward-thinking mode so that we reach out to serve one another as God wants us to serve. We truly become caretakers of this world one person to another, one home to another, one community to another, and even on to other communities around this world.

The sun has not yet risen, but the glorious sounds of God’s world surround me even at this very moment. My theology may begin with creation, but it has continued throughout history. I see God in the context of the moment. I see God in the beauty but also in the misery of human life.

God is love. God gives grace. God created, but he also gave his creation the freedom to continue evolving. Knowing what I believe helps me to serve one another in love so that God’s creation can continue to grow.

Closing prayer

Dear Father, creator of heaven and earth,

Thank you for life itself.

Thank you for freedom to think and to do.

Thank you for your grace and forgiveness.

 

Guide us, day in and day out,

To learn who you are.

Guide us in seeking to understand

The story of Jesus Christ.

Guide us to accept the Holy Spirit

So we may follow Jesus more closely.

 

Be with us along our journey

Learning about your love, grace and forgiveness.

Be with us as we struggle

To manage life challenges.

Be with us as we reach out in love

To others needing your love and grace.

 

May we find peace and happiness

In the glory of your creation.

May we find the joy of serving one another

In the same way as Jesus did.

May we deliver grace through the Holy Spirit

So others may know the promise of everlasting life.

 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.

 

Citation:  Migliore, Daniel.  Faith Seeking Understand:  An introduction to Christian theology, 3rd edition.  Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI.  2014.

 

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