Theology should not only help us understand more about who God is, but also help us answer the question, “How should we live?”
This includes everything: thinking, feeling, and doing. Christian theology is to inform our lives because, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:19b-20, HCSB). We are gospel people. We are the crucified. Theology is anchored in Christ and therefore gospel-driven.
Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He replied that it’s two-fold.
First, Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37). We usually don’t struggle with whether or not to love God with our hearts or even our souls, but do you love God with your mind? God wants you to know him on every level. It is not wrong to “give your heart and soul to God,” but he wants your mind, too. He wants you to think rightly about him so that you feel rightly about him. He wants you to know facts about him so that you can have a deeper relationship with him.
Of course, we are not saved by knowledge of God alone; in fact, even demons know and believe that God exists (James 2:19). We are not saved by theology of Avatar, believing that God is a glowing tree, either. The heart, soul, and mind are not separated. God wants it all, together, forever. Through the gospel, good theology brings them together into a fully-formed, rightly-motivated worship of the God of the universe.
Second, Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39). Theology doesn’t stop with you because the gospel doesn’t stop with you. God is a God of salvation, of reconciliation. Paul was unashamed of the gospel because “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16-17).
The gospel is for everyone. So when Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), he wants us to take his truth to them. “But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” (Rom. 10:14-15, HCSB).
So God doesn’t simply want you to have good theology; he wants all people everywhere to have good theology. As his disciples who are called to make more disciples, it is important for us to tell people about him in a proper way. We don’t want them to just know about God, but to know God as he has revealed himself.
Good theology is the system of roots that keeps our tree of faith vibrant and alive. It keeps us grounded, centered, and yet growing. When we are rooted, we won’t remain stagnant. And neither will those around us.
Brandon D. Smith is Brand Manager for the Holman Christian Standard Bible and author of Rooted: Theology for Growing Christians. Follow him on Twitter.