Christianity is a strange beast. It is said that Christianity both contains the shallows in which an infant may bathe and the depths in which an elephant may drown. And so, as I prepare for our second Space For God bible study, I really find myself asking the question: "Where should I be swimming?" I mean, does the fact that I can swim in the deep end obligate me to do so? And more to the point, do I think that wading in the shallows is somehow beneath me?
While I freely acknowledge that there are many people who know much more than me in the area of theology, I think it would be accurate to suggest that I have accumulated a fairly significant amount of theological knowledge over the years. Not only have I read deeply, but I have also read broadly. And yet, after all of this theological study I find myself needing to ask the question: "To what end have I done this?" What have I achieved? How has this knowledge helped me to love God more deeply and my neighbour more fully? I must confess that I struggle for an answer.
Continuing his series of devotions on living the Christian life, Thomas à Kempis writes:
"In the Holy Scriptures we must look for truth, not eloquence. All Scripture must be read in the spirit in which it is written, and in the Scriptures we should look for what will help us, and not for subtle points."
I have to say that I find this to be a rather stinging and humbling rebuke. It makes me think about how much time and energy I have wasted posturing over the finer points of theological discourse. Considering that I have been exposed and continue to be exposed to an environment in what theological knowledge is cherished, this preoccupation is not at all surprising. All too often, debating theology has become the main game at the expense of actually living the Christian life with integrity and faithfulness. I feel that there are times when both myself and the people with whom I engage are far more interested in appearing intelligent before others than edifying the other person. This is a cause for great sorrow.
With all of the above in mind, I ask myself as well as my readers whether we need to focus less upon the abstract areas of theology and more upon the simple truths that should be driving our faith. Before we seek an ever increasing understanding of abstract articles of faith, should we not to seek to more fully understand what it means to love God with all of our being and what it means to love our neighbour as ourselves? More importantly, instead of debating the finer points of eschatology, shouldn't we be concentrating on seeking to build each other up in our respective spiritual journies in the here and now?