A song on the trusty iPod reminded me of a recent news story and led to the latest devotional thoughts.
A song by Sam Cooke became one of my favorite songs when I was a young student. The title of the tune was Wonderful World and the songwriter was apparently a student very similar to me.
Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be
Any guy who could parlay being an academic slacker into a romantic advantage was my hero! I have to confess (not proudly) that I was a chronic underachiever as a student. Today I would be diagnosed as suffering (?) from ADD and given accommodations. Back then I was diagnosed as lazy and given constant grief by teachers and counselors. Not knowing much about the French I took has only been an inconvenience in Quebec. In my career as a television sports director I rarely have to lean on biology. Science comes into play now and then but I let the engineers handle that.
The song brought to mind a recent study by the Pew Foundation about how woefully uninformed the average American is about faith, both theirs and others. It was sad but not surprising. Not knowing history is unfortunate but not knowing what you believe just might have eternal consequences and even an academic slacker like me knows that eternity is a long, long time. In my first book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, I rewrote the lyrics from Wonderful Life as an ode to our general lack of knowledge about theology. Join with me as we sing both stanzas…
Don't know much about theology,
Don't know much Christology.
Don't know much about Leviticus,
Don't know why they had the Exodus.
But I do know that God loves you,
And I'm trying hard to be good too.
What a wonderful faith this would be.
Well, I don't claim to be a good Christian,
But I'm trying to be.
For maybe by bein' a good person, brother,
I can gain eternity.
Don't know much about the Pharisees,
Can't explain the Trinity.
Don't know much ecclesiology
Don't know what a good tithe should be.
But I think that God forgives my quirks,
And I figure if I do good works,
What a wonderful faith this would be.
I had to admit in that book that I could name the entire starting lineup, pitchers and bullpen of the 1961 Cincinnati Reds but I would struggle to name 9 of the 12 disciples.
I thought about how much I have heard over 35 years of sermons. I have a lot of knowledge. I have learned a lot of truth. But simple knowledge of that truth does not change my heart. Trusting that truth and living out of that truth through grace changes my heart, my intrinsic motivation and my walk with Jesus. I fear our lack of a theological foundation and well thought out world view is a big contributor to the lack of impact that evangelicals have on the culture. I continue to recommend the book Truefaced as a wonderful source of practical theology.
I leave you with this passage from 1 Peter. I love the imagery from The Message for these verses in chapter 4.
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.
Without a theological basis to understand who God is it is easy to reach the conclusion that God either isn't on the job or is not there at all. Without good theology teaching us what happens when we become believers it is tough to love others as if your life depended on it. Without grace it is a challenge to be cheerfully generous with all that you are given.
So I many not know much about biology but do know a couple of things. I am grateful that I am being refined by life. And I am thrilled that glory is just around the corner.