Thoughts on thinking and theology

Lately, there was this assertion that was posted to me over email. The person involved, when I asked the person some questions regarding the situation he is going through, he replied that he chooses not to engage with me in theory and wanted practical actions.

Let's be clear about this, I think I know where he is coming from. I myself am a doer wherever I go and it makes me feel empty when I don't get to do anything, especially in church. And what use of theory is there? Why engage in theory when one can just go into 'practical' action.

And my answer is this: right serving has to be preceded by right thinking. I have talked about Christian maturity in my last post and closely linked is our underlying theology and thinking behind our services to God. Perhaps just take a look at one verse for now:

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

To dissect the verses, we have to bear in mind the context that Paul is writing. Verse 1 comes after chapter 11 when Paul finished talking about the salvation provided by Christ in a depraved world. The verses proceeding from verse 2 start talking about spiritual gifts. Essentially, verses 1 - 2 talk about the heart and mind transformation that needs to take place in the process of offering our bodies as living sacrifice as act of worship. In view of God's mercy - this is something that can only be felt in the heart, not in the mind. The order seems to suggest that our hearts towards God have to be right and transformed first before we talk about the mind. And indeed, we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our mind after verse 1.

How is this related to right thinking and practical action? Simply put it, Paul exhorted the believers of Rome to be transformed in their mind and get out of whatever wrong thinking from the world as a preclude to the service to God. The logic behind the exhortation is clear, our practical actions have to be underpinned by the right understanding on why we do what we do. The fundamental core assumptions have to be sound, defensible and livable. It doesn't help if I provide practical solutions to a person to handle his problems when his fundamental understanding is not sound enough.

Henceforth, is there no relationship between sound thinking and service? A lot of links and almost inseparable. To ask for action without examining the thinking is to really to build our lives on unsound foundation. Perhaps related to my previous post, the bible has to say:

Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The implication is perhaps clear. We have to build our lives on the solid rock foundation. This involves all aspects of our lives, including our thinking and theology. To espouse a wrong theology while doing right action is not what loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength means. Because simply put it, how does knowing and believing the wrong thing about the One who loves you translate to love for Him. It will either be the case that you hate Him cos He is not the one you believed you loved, or the case that you don't really care as long as you are the one receiving, not giving?

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