It has been interesting interacting with Christians since being back in North America, where Theology feels like it reigns as king, opposed to Jesus.
Beyond what I read about online, my conversations with Christians have intrigued me. For instance, today I was sitting in Panera Bread reading my Bible and some other books and a younger looking guy approached me asking what book I was reading. I responded with the Bible and he wanted to know what book in the Bible. We began to talk for a minute about the books I was reading alongside the Bible and then we transitioned into more of, yet shallowly a theological discussion.
From around the corner another man approached and joined our conversation, yet from my perspective he was absolutely uninterested in anything except for theology. He questioned what seminaries we went to, our systematic theology books, where we attended church, and yata yata. After stating i didn’t go to seminary he essentially ignored me until I stated I had traveled around the world for a year serving the Lord, on which note he simply shook my hand and left, as if uninterested because it had nothing to do with any theological discussion.
The other gentleman proceeded to talk for a bit more about church planting and the dire need for a solid theology for it to work at all and yata yata before heading back towards his seat. A few minutes later I couldn’t help but overhear the two gentlemen re initiating discussion and debate of different theological positions.
In this entire interaction and even after words, I never felt we were furthering the kingdom. I never felt we were uplifting God’s name. I never was inspired to grow my relationship deeper with the Lord because of my conversation with these men. I had no desire to interact further with them. From my perspective, there had not been any testimony of the hand of our awesome God working or what I would consider to be fellowship as believers.
Yes, I understand there is a definite place for theology in Christianity and that these two individuals are not representative of all of Christians in America, but it seems to be fairly commonplace among Christians in America that we are not openly fellowshipping with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. We are debating and trying to prove one scholar as more relevant than the other. We are trying to stand out as the more informed and well educated pastor or simply Christian. Egos are being boosted and torn down. It seems to me in many cases, God isn’t being viewed as king, theology is.
Around the world, or at least outside of America in impoverished countries, the conversations I had with pastors and church people were encouraging! We enjoyed fellowship together, celebrating what the Lord was doing and being vulnerable with our struggles and asking for prayer. Pastors and simple Christians alike dwelt on truths of our God and the experiences thereof that either were encouraged or challenging. I nearly always left conversations and interactions inspired and pumped for what the Lord was doing, not discouraged because of feeling my knowledge was inadequate. Time and time again what I saw as the Church overseas acted in ways I believe to be biblical and also positive. Not so much in America.
Shouldn’t people in the world see Christians in public encouraging and being excited by the sharing of testimony of the hand of the Lord? Shouldn’t they see the excitement and joy we have in the Lord? With all the problems in this world, shouldn’t we rally together, sharing the uplifting events of God’s grace and love? Shouldn’t they see us on our knees and bowing our heads together with brothers and sisters in Christ, mourning and interceding for one another?
Isn’t God our King?
Doesn’t God promise, if we love and seek Him, that He will fill us with joy so overflowing that it explodes out of us in such abundance, making us, as Paul says in Philippians, shine like stars?
Theology is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But it pains me to see the Church dwelling socially on theology and not on fellowship and love.
God must be our sole joy; our King.