October 15 I Monday
1 Thessalonians 3
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...”
—2 Timothy 3:16
Three days after Jesus invited His first four followers into a shared life experience with Him, they attended a wedding where Jesus turned water into wine. “So far, so good,” the disciples might have thought. “This is the kind of rabbi I’m willing to follow.” But their next experience of Jesus was going to the temple for Passover where He braided a whip, overturned tables and drove all the money-changers and sacrificial animal sellers from the temple courts. Suddenly, these four disciples found themselves in the middle of a showdown between Jesus and the religious elites.
In this whirlwind of excitement, the disciples likely felt that the rug had been pulled out from under them. Their initial experience of Jesus was filled with wonder and amazement. They were drawn to a man they were convinced was the Messiah, and in some cases, who seemed to know them better than they did themselves. They likely celebrated the wine-making Jesus, the man who rescued the party, but now they were seeing a wrathful, zealous Jesus and might have begun to wonder what kind of man they had attached themselves to.
Like these disciples, some believers today also base their theology or understanding of Christ off a partial picture. Some Christians filter everything they believe about God through one or two intense spiritual moments with Christ they had in the past. Others look to a few specific verses to determine their theology, perhaps taking these verses out of context and even putting other verses aside that don’t fit the picture they have developed. The result is a version of Jesus inconsistent with His true character.
We must not confuse our theologies with the truths that Scripture describes. Theology is something like a constellation. We draw lines between the stars to give us a map of the sky much like theology draws lines to link together various ideas about God into a coherent picture. Hence why different systematic theology books can come to such differing conclusions, because it is simply people connecting different statements about God in different ways. Debate between believers is healthy, but it becomes a problem when we assign the same or more authority to our theological understandings than we do to the truths of Scripture themselves.
To get the fullest picture of the real Jesus, we need to spend time with Him, which begins with prayerfully reading His Word. We must allow our study of Scripture to affect how we view Him, not the other way around. The Bible is God’s self-revelation, and for us to know and worship Him as He is, we must take all He has revealed of Himself into account.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the revelation of who You are in Your Word. Open my eyes as I read to anywhere I have let my theology cloud Your truth.