Paul gave the Colossians, and ourselves, a command to be alert in this: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ(Col2.8).
Through philosophy, men of Paul’s day built complicated doctrines to justify their biases and prejudices. Humans still do this today, yes we do. Thinking with a renewed mind includes examination of ourselves and our thought processing. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2Cor13.5)
Peter warned against those who misused the writings of Paul “which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures”(2Pet3.16).
As we press on to the goal, with the intentionality of an well-trained athlete, let us remember that we seek to be pleasing to God. By the grace of God we approach three main functions of Christian thought and practice with humble caution.
We judge not only ourselves but assess the local community of faith that we meld with. The function of Body Life is for the benefit of all of God's gifted children, where we all bring something vital to our gathering. In our communications with others then, we express our understanding based upon three areas which have been part of the Church's proclamation historically.
Paul writes of Faith, Hope, and Love in his epistle to a very modern Church in Corinth. These three find themselves expressed as Theology, Doctrine and Love. Paul reminds us, that the greatest of these is love.
Love God with all our being, love our neighbor; this is who we are called to be - lovers not of self or of teachings that appeal to our itching ears. We know, O Father, we are not called to love the world, nor the things of this world.
Yet we do love ourselves, considering ourself more worthy than others. We find it difficult to mourn being in this world we are in. We cling to values and habits of life gleaned out of our negative or positive interaction within our worldly culture. And we like stuff, and enjoy more stuff.
We will not see clearly in this lifetime on Earth, but surely we may see more acutely than we do. We have glimpses of clarity, and in this we are transformed; no one deals with God and remains untouched. One grows, or becomes more self-absorbed out of defiance.
In this, it is written, we know that we belong to God: if we love one another just as Jesus loves us. Love then is the primary entrance into relationship with God and others. Prior to this, we have a relationship to God and others, as an object to other objects.
When we pretend we can enter into the Arena through Theology or Doctrine we err, and find ourselves remaining in the bleachers. We are called to be in the world, as His ambassadors.
God is love. God has a vibrant and vital relationship as the Triune Holy, holy, holy God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For God's love, Jesus was born of a virgin to testify to the Truth, even unto death. The Son of God eternal became the Word of God become flesh and pitched His tent with us. He died to defeat Sin and Death and rose in glorified flesh as the Victor.
He tabernacled with mere humans in the very world we live in. "Mere humans" because those who are born of God are His not by ethnicity, will of the mind, nor will of the flesh. God makes us His children by new birth.
In Love then, we find our creaturely place with God. All else is a result of the event in acceptance or rejection of God's love for us. Either He knows us, or does not... and this is the Judgement.
By His love only do we possess love for another. Love is the Word of God become flesh, not the Word of God become more word. There is not only faith, nor only practice. We have the hope of His calling to unite in Him because of the righteousness of Jesus our Lord.
We are imago Dei, because of the Logos. In Him we are restored into rationality. We are freed from our insanity, released from bondage to Sin and Death. It is in Him we have our identity as the sons and daughters of God, being zealous for good deeds and for being God's will.
Entering into newness of life, are we then drawn into a cocoon of our own understanding?
No, we must rely not on our own understanding but rather God now reveals knowledge of Himself in ways we could not receive previously, being spiritually dead.
Thus we are not the people of God based upon our awareness, but because of who God is. It is Jesus who leads us in the paths of righteousness, for His own name's sake.
Primarily and ever we know God through Jesus. He did not His own will, but the will of the Father. We experience this once we offer ourselves as living sacrifices in possession of a renewing mind. Jesus tells us that those who know God, do God's will; those who are not of God can not.
Knowledge of the self-revealing God, then, is our necessary place to stand from which we love. Unfortunately humans like to think of Theology as our thoughts about God. This is more accurately in the realm of Doctrine. Theology is thinking the thoughts of God after Him.
Knowledge of God is due to His Holy Spirit of Truth who indwells us as He did in Jesus in the Incarnation of His first coming. It is by the Spirit of God that we are created new beings in His love.
In plain words, we are created in Jesus to know God. Our first relationship is not with ourselves even, in the new creation. We are meaningful and purposeful because we know God, or better put, we are now known by God. It is by His love that we come to know Him who causes us both to will to do, and to do, according to His own purposes.
We find Love, and through love we know Him, and this causes us to be obedient children. Love, Theology and Doctrine are not of our choosing, this is how the faithful function in both Covenant periods.
When we approach our spirituality through a focus upon Theology or Doctrine we go against God's created order. This is known as rebellion against God, which is what Adam and Eve started and we continued. He is faithful and just to forgive us our Sin, faithful even if we are not (If we believe not, He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself. 2Tim2.13).
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.(Rev15.3,4)