Does He want you to believe the right things or live the right way? Does He want you to hold the “correct” teaching about Him? Or is He more concerned with who you become?
Let me put it to you another way. What do you think pleases God MOST about your life?
Is it when you’re diving into the deep end of the pool to study Him in all his glorious ways? When you’re learning more about Him? Or is it when you love your neighbors as you love yourself? When by faith and through choices you’re transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus?
What matters MOST to HIM: That you amass more information about Him, or that you become more like Him?
Sorry, you can’t have it both ways
The easy answer is to say it’s both. He does care about both. They both matter. But for the purpose of this discussion, I’m asking you to think about which takes priority and take a side. What do you think God wants to be the priority in your life and his church? More Knowledge of him or more transformation? I’m NOT asking us to discuss this in relation to soteriology.
Job, the man God brags about
Consider Job. Man, did he ever impress God. He even brags about him to Satan. The Lord may be holding Job up as the most eminent among all living humans. What was it that grabbed God’s attention? What turned his head and caused him to consider Job?
It wasn’t his systematic theology. It certainly wasn’t his understanding of the sovereignty of God or the problem of evil. Not if you asked his friends. According to them, Job was a theological newb, a borderline heretic! They’re the ones who understood the deep things of God. Not Job. But God wasn’t impressed with them. He was impressed by Job’s blameless and upright life.
We don’t have to guess about this. God tells us in His own words:
“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
We don’t know how much Job knew about the God of the universe. But we do know that he knew enough to radically alter the way he lived. THAT’S what impressed God. I think that’s what always impresses him.
What did Jesus believe?
When they asked Jesus to sum up the Old Testament law into one command, he gave two. They both deal with how we live: Love God and love your neighbor. God wants each of us to have Him as King and then to treat every person around us the way our King commands. Both of those broad categories have behavior as the key component. The Epistles and the early church fathers all say the same thing. God wants us to live a certain way.
American Christianity has become more concerned with understanding the ways of God than living by them. And it’s decimating the church. We’ve mistakenly believed that God’s goal is that we have more information about Him. But is that what He wants? Is that the object of the Christian life? Does God want us to have more and more information about who He is? Simply for the sake of having our theology wrapped up in a nice box and stored on our bookshelves? Or does he want us to become like Jesus?
Ask your Neighbor
I heard a missionary tell a story about a primitive culture they were working in. When a new convert came to Christ, they’d teach them to love their neighbor. They taught them what it meant and how it looked and how they should do it. Then then they sent them out to do it.
In a week or two, the people of the church would ask the unbelieving neighbor how the new convert was doing. “Is he treating you like you want to be treated?” If the answer was “NO!” then they would go over the lesson again and send him back out to live his faith. When he finally got it right, they would move on to the next thing.
How’s that for a discipleship course?
Don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE theology! It’s so much easier to study about God and the Christian faith than it is to put it into practice. Isn’t it? But imagine a world where Christians live out what they already know about God. There would be a lot more Mother Teresa’s than theologians.
That’s my take. Now it’s your turn. What do you think is most important to God, how we live or what we believe? Why do you see it that way?
If you liked this post, you should check out this one: Does God Care about Our Theology?
Does He want us to believe the right things or act the right way? Is His primary concern that we believe the right doctrine or that we behave the way he created us to behave? Does He want us to hold to and defend until death the “correct” teaching about Him? Or is God more concerned with how we choose to live our lives?
Think about it before you gather up the kindling to burn me alive for the heretic that you think I am.
Mother Teresa or John Calvin?
Does it please God more when we give ourselves to study every facet of his character, diving into the deep end of the pool to contemplate God in all his ways or when we devote our lives to living according to those ways? Put another way, do you think that God was more pleased with John Calvin Read the rest of this entry
My friend looked at me in utter disbelief. We had been discussing the state of the church in its four major divisions: Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant. (For the sake of brevity, I have lumped all us Protestants into one category. I don’t have time to list us all!)
“Of course THE Church matters to God”, he replied, “He died to give it birth!
I can’t argue with that!
What perplexes me though, is that there are so many different types of churches. Clearly a lack of unity within THE church has eluded us.
Read the rest of this entry
Saint Cyprian penned the following wise words in AD 256. Brothers and sister, we would be do well to take them to heart. They remind us that what God requires of us is not a deeper understanding of his ways, but a life that is lived following them. It is easy to get the two confused. Learning facts is one thing. Living them out on a daily basis is something entirely different. When we have more facts than fruit in our lives, our lives are out of balance. Of course, theology was important to the early church. It just took a back seat to living the Christian life. Cyprians words reminded me that Read the rest of this entry
Over here at Not For Itching Ears we like to discuss issues that challenge our view of Christianity and the Church. It is healthy to consider what one believes about the Christian faith and how we express that faith in our corporate church life. If all we ever do is listen to ourselves, we can inadvertently become the kind of people Paul warned Timothy about: People who surround themselves with “teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.” Today’s post is an attempt to counter that tendency among us as we discuss Free-Will and Determinism. To do this, we turn to an extremely interesting email exchange between Father John Whiteford (an Eastern Orthodox priest) and some proponents of Calvinism.
This isn’t your typical argument! Father Whiteford brings another line of argumentation to his view that is almost entirely absent from the typical back and forth between Calvinists and Arminians: What did the early church fathers teach about this?
I recognize that there are three groups of people who will read a post like this: 1) Strong Calvinists who will want to defend their view. 2)Strong Arminians who will want to find ammo for their view and 3) those who don’t have their minds made up but may lean to one understanding of things. My hope, is that all three groups of people will be challenged and encouraged. It’s a long discussion so I will be breaking it up into three posts. Read Part 1 Here; here’s part 2: Read the rest of this entry
Does He want us to believe the right things or act the right way? Is His primary concern that we believe the right doctrine or that we behave the right way? Does He want us to hold to and defend until death the “correct” teaching about Him? Or is God more concerned with how we choose to live our lives?
Does it please God more when we give ourselves to study every facet of his character, diving into the deep end of the pool to contemplate God in all his glorious ways or when we devote our lives to living according to those ways? Put another way, do you think that God was more pleased with John Calvin Read the rest of this entry
Not for itching ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the serious issues that face the evangelical church. The main issue, as we see it, is that the church has grown perilously close to abandoning the Gospel. All around us we see churches relaxing their grip on it, in danger of fumbling it. In a recent message I delivered titled “Don’t Abandon the Gospel”, I took a look at what the Apostle Paul challenged the church of his day with. Based on 2 Timothy 4:1-8, it provides a clear remedy: Read the rest of this entry
Happy New Year to all our readers! Today we are excited to announce a new feature to the blog. It is called “Worship Leader Makeover.” One of my passions in life is the corporate worship meeting of the church. Whether it was as a senior pastor (10 LONG years) or a worship leader, I have been responsible for leading every aspect of the Sunday morning meeting. I have also studied worship in the church extensively. All that to say, I think I have earned the right to comment on the current state of “worship” and to encourage those who lead “it”.
Our “Worship Leader Makeover” will feature a regular post for worship leaders. It will not focus on any technical issues. Rather, I will be sharing foundational things I have learned over the years. My hope is that one by one, I can encourage other worship leaders, and that true Christ honoring worship would be restored in His church. It won’t matter if your congregation uses instruments or not, as the things I share will have nothing to do with that.
Disclosure: I am a full-time musician. A guitar player (what can I say, God loves me!) I run my own teaching studio and have traveled… Read the rest of this entry