Is it me or is there a growing number of theologically conservative preachers, teachers and seminary students who just seem ticked off all of the time? They soak in all of their "ologies" (Soteriology, Hamartiology, Christology, Pneumatology, etc) and come out of their Bible bathtubs bubbling with bitterness, bile and bite. Sadly, they are marked more by their pointed index fingers and furrowed brows than the joy of Christ.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the "ologies" and am passionate about rightly dividing the Word of God. On a theological level I'm pretty stinkin' conservative myself. But it seems to me that Biblical truth should not make us angry nerds who lash out at others who don't line up with our point of view, especially on the issues that don't matter as much. Jots and tittles shouldn't be the Kibbles n' Bits we feed on. Instead we must feast on the love of God himself and then invite others to join the feast! Strong theology should fill our hearts, not with rage, but awe, joy and gratefulness.
If God's grace is a reality then I should be marked by a smile, not a snarl.
If God's Word is true then I should have confidence, not arrogance.
If God is triune then I should seek unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ, not division.
If God chose me before the foundation of the earth then I should be filled with humility, not pride.
If God made me in his image then I should reflect divine love, not religious legalism.
The great theologian and apostle wrote these words to Timothy in his last days before losing his head to Nero's sharpened axe,
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26
I'm not sure that Paul in his early ministry years was characterized by the same sense of gentleness and love he is urging Timothy to model in this passage. Early on in Acts he seemed angrier, less patient and more demanding…angry enough to turn John Mark away…angry enough to send Barnabas packing. But, later in life, it seems as though the heart of Christ (love) and mind of Christ (truth) collide in Paul's life and through his pen in unprecedented ways. May the same be true of us!
Hey seminary students, exegete this…
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If we master theology but don't have the love of the Master ruling our hearts then we gain nothing. If we learn the truth but don't live it in love then we have missed the punch line to the greatest theological truth in the universe…a holy and just God who hates sin, loved us enough to send his Son to die for us. His great love for us should usher about a great love in our hearts for him, each other, the lost and, yes, even false teachers.
Great theology, truly understood, embraced and incarnated should turn our frowns upside down.