Sometimes there is a difference between what you know (in your head) and what you believe (in your heart). It’s difficult to live a life of integrity when what you know and believe don’t line up. If you let it, studying theology can be a purely intellectual activity that doesn’t affect any other area of your life. BUT it can also be a powerful, life-changing activity that affects every area of your life. Studying theology, with the Holy Spirit as your constant companion, can correct faulty beliefs at both the head and the heart level, bringing the them into alignment with each other and into alignment with truth in a way that transforms how you see and interact with God, yourself, and others.
I have always known that God is a God of love. For God so loved the world, etc. I could recite the verses, sing the songs, speak the truth. But for a long time, I lived like he was a God of anger, disappointment, and disapproval. It was a combination of having a faulty definition of love (believing love was simply a choice that need not involve emotion) and of my heart believing I had a heavenly father who simply tolerated me (I’ve since come to understand some of where this false belief about God came from but that’s fodder for another post). I could say the right thing, God is Love, because I knew the truth, but I more deeply believed the lie that God was tolerating me, always on the edge of disappointment, waiting for me to fail.
The theology (my beliefs about God and his beliefs about me) of my head and my heart didn’t line up and I was unaware until a friend of mine asked some probing questions that challenged me to explore what I most deeply believed. This process brought to light a belief system that ran much deeper and held much more power over my life than the facts I knew and could recite. Her questions and the Holy Spirit’s illumination* helped me to begin to unearth and correct my theology at the heart level.
It turns out that our heads are a very important part of retraining our hearts. When the lies I’d believed were brought to light I was able to intentionally reject them and replace them with the truth I knew in my head (from studying Scripture, studying theology, and walking with God) until the two were brought into alignment with each other. Rarely has this been a simple or painless process but it has always been freeing and fruitful.
My prayer, as you journey with me through systematic theology is that both your head and heart will be challenged with the truth of who God is, who you are, and how he wants you to interact with him, yourself, others, and the world. I pray that faulty knowledge will be revealed, that faulty beliefs will be revealed, and that you’ll have the courage to bring your head and heart in alignment with the truth God reveals in Scripture.
(please let me know what words I use that don’t make sense or aren’t common so I can provide a simple definition here for you)
– Illumination: bringing light to, revealing