We look at Jesus a lot. Even for Christmas, we looked deeply at Jesus' person based on the intro to John's Gospel. The Trinity. His character, His nature, His authority, His power. Why do this?
We do theology because it helps us to Trust Him and to Know Him and to Love Him. This is what God wants for us. This is relational, internal, heart, mind, and will. This is where submission is chosen.
Yet it is common for people to skirt this and say, "Don't give me theology, just tell me what to do." This is what grows churches. Tell people what to do. How to live. Keep them busy doing all the right things. It is common for Christians to prioritize our outward behavior.
It's easy to focus on personal actions, behaviors, because this is what people see. Plus it is something we falsely think we can control. And it's certainly what we judge, and what others judge as well. For how else can they know if you're truly a Christian except by your actions?!
How would you answer that?
Well what impressed Jesus most was people's faith in Him. That's probably what should impress us as well. Or as Paul said, It's our faith acting in love.
But what's wrong with this type of thinking, "Don't give me theology, just tell me what to do."
For starters, it ignores what God is doing, nurturing faith, maturing us into people who trust and love Him. It misunderstands how we grow and mature in Christ, inward working its way outward, again, faith acting in love. It also slights the nature of sin if all we have to do is control our behavior, and it slights the whole work of God's grace in our hearts and lives. So it minimizes the cross and ignores man's total inability to please God without the inner work of His Spirit within us.
We want people to be theologically rich because it helps us to know and trust and love the Lord.
As we KNOW God's person (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and character (holy, merciful, loving, just), and we TRUST His divine attributes (infinite wisdom, sovereign power, all knowing, total authority) and we love Him for His goodness to us (the cross, eternal life, working out all things for our good), this is when we are most inclined to worship and to obey Him.
As we know and trust and love the Lord, we are most inclined to worship and obey Him.
Faith pleases Him. Thus, "Whatever is not of faith is sin," And so if our worship is not of faith, it's not pleasing. If our obedience is not of faith it is not pleasing to the Lord either. What's the point of that then?
Jesus Himself said, "If you love me you will obey me." So again, if it's not an act of love, it's less than the obedience that Jesus wishes for us. He doesn't say if you believe in me you'll obey Me.
If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have eternal life but that doesn't necessarily lead to obedience. Love, Jesus says, is what propels our submission and worship and obedience.
It sounds odd, but obedience can at times reflect a lack of faith in God's grace, a lack of love. For instance, if you do this good deed to maintain God's favor. If you refrain from something evil today because you want God to bless you tomorrow, this reflects a lack of faith in God's grace.
If you do this good thing to assure yourself or others that you have eternal life it reveals a lack of faith in the finished work of Christ.
If you serve God to feel good about yourself and your status with God your good work may actually stem from a lack of faith in Jesus Christ and the merits of His works.
But what then must we do to be assured that we have eternal life?
How do we know we have God's favor jand eternal life? We look only to Jesus and His promise to us, and we believe Him. We look to Jesus and to His death and resurrection and we trust Him for God's favor.
And it is here, in relationship with Christ, trusting in His grace, loving Him for His goodness, that we are most prepared to walk with Him and abide in Him and to honor Him in our obedience.