I lived for years with a distorted view of God and some really poor theology, in part, because I never really confronted what I truly believed and what I didn’t.
And now it’s become a burden as I see the same thing in others all the time. People stay away from God because He didn’t meet their expectations. Even though they’ve never thought about what they can or should expect from Him.
It’s true of committed Jesus-followers as well. We pray, but we’ve never really thought about what happens on the other end of our prayers. We see something good happen and say, “that was a God thing,” with little thought or conviction about it.
So, I came up with the idea of writing a Personal Theology Statement . . . writing down what I believe right here, right now. No right or wrong, just real. To guide the process, I came up with some questions. It’s not an exhaustive list, there’s plenty more you could ask or even another format you could use . . . if you take a stab at this, do what makes sense to you.
- Why are you here? Why do you exist?
For a long, long time, the trite answer has been “to glorify God.” But what does that really mean to you? Is our whole existence about a theological concept to which we haven’t put much thought? It’s easy to slip into a performance-based mindset, working hard to glorify God at the expense of living in the Grace provided by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. What do you really believe about your existence? Right now.
- What do you believe about God’s involvement in your everyday life?
Is He driving everything all the time? Or did God set things in motion and give His creation free will to do what it’s made to do? Or maybe something in between, like miracles now and then? Does He intervene in the free will of people and creation? Or does He just let things happen and stand by us as they do?
- Does prayer work and if so, how?
Do you believe prayer works? When does it work and when does it not work? Is there a specific set of words or circumstances that bring God’s attention and help to a crisis? Or does prayer only change you and me because it forces us to admit that He is God and we are not?
- What do you believe happens when you die?
Everyone has a set of beliefs about heaven and hell. Are they real? Here on earth someday or somewhere far, far away? What will it be like? Is it worth thinking about every day, or is it just a big maybe?
Every Christian believes something about these questions. But it’s really scary to put your personal beliefs in writing. What if I’m wrong? What will my wife think if I believe something she doesn’t? What if one of my beliefs can’t be supported by a black and white Scripture verse? What if there’s something I just don’t believe that Scripture says I should?
It’s been helpful for me to write down my answers to these questions. To read the words and ask God to take me toward the beliefs I need to examine. To discuss my beliefs with others I know, love, and trust. And to come to a place of peace about what I believe.
Challenge: Sometime over the next week, take a stab at writing your Personal Theology Statement. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Just sit down and write out an honest list of the things you believe. Don’t preach. Don’t quote Scripture unless it’s essential. Just be real and put it down in black and white and ask God to help you get clear and solid on His truth.
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