I love doing children’s sermons at Concord. In addition to teaching our young folks at church, this also helps me summarize and simplify the overall theme of my sermon. Hopefully everyone in church gleans a bit of truth from these children’s moments!
During the children’s sermon yesterday, I mentioned a lengthy school assignment I did while in seminary (and said it might put someone to sleep to read all 30 pages of it!). I figured on the church blog this week I would briefly recap exactly what I wrote during my seminary studies. This paper was one of the final assignments and was called a Credo–which is Latin for the phrase “I believe.” The Credo was an assignment for all Master of Divinity students to articulate their own personal theology. As you can guess, this took quite a while for me to write.
The word theology essentially means the study of God–theos meaning divine and the suffix –ology meaning the study of. We all do theology in one way or another, regardless of whether you’ve been to seminary or not. When we talk, read, or think about God, we are actually doing theology. And as I pointed out yesterday, we all have to answer the questions of faith (like “Do you believe in God?”) in one way or another.
In my Credo I focused on one central theme: God is revealed to us through Jesus Christ as a God who suffers. What we can read and experience about Jesus is the most important thing for our faith. All other theological concepts (such as the Holy Spirit to the work of the church) further emphasize this truth. Jesus came to our world, showed us how to live, and experienced profound suffering. He shed tears for friends who had died, wept over the lost city of Jerusalem, and felt the pain of hunger and thirst. Ultimately, Jesus suffered death on a cross, proving God’s love for us. Jesus knows exactly what it is like to suffer since he underwent terrible things to show you and me that God wants to be with us.
It is my hope that every part of my ministry reflects this invaluable truth. Jesus truly understands you and wants to always be with you… so much so that he was willing to die for you.
In re-reading my Credo paper last week, I was struck by a quote I had found by theologian Jurgen Moltmann. (I’ve previously written about Moltmann’s own personal testimony on the blog). He once wrote in his book The Crucified God that “if anyone wants to become a Christian, don’t send [them] into the churches, but into the slums. There [they] will find Christ.”
Now don’t get me wrong, churches obviously play an important role in our faith journey. But the ultimate point of following Jesus is to spread that good news to other people. Likewise, we need to be going outside the walls of the church to truly live out our faith. We need to carry that message of hope forward instead of keeping it in the pews.
My own theology leads me to focus on missions and outreach. Jesus hung around the poor, hungry, and needy in order to share God’s love with them. We ought to be doing the same every single day.