Theology is the engine that drives action. There is a direct link between what we do and what we believe. A.W. Tozer was not wrong when he said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” We are all theologians—there are no exceptions. The only distinction is whether we are good or bad theologians, accurate or erroneous, healthy or unhelpful.
How we work our jobs, treat our families, interact with our neighbors, handle relationships are all deeply theological things. Theology informs the way we engage issues of war, peace, death, suicide, abuse, money, time and freedom. Every sphere of life is connected to theology—there are no exceptions.
When I was in college I recall a class discussion on the Trinity. In the middle of this mind blowing discussion of how God can be one and yet exist in three persons, the professor asked a profound question. “How do we apply the Trinity?” He was driving toward practical theology—he was helping theology find feet. What does the truth of one God existing in three persons have to do with me, my family and my co-workers? What a wonderful question!
The answer: everything! The Triune God is the blueprint of true community. In God we behold how relationships are intended to be. In him we see what love, service, humility and honor look like between persons. In him we behold what safety and acceptance mean. In this God we see how difference and distinction can exist perfectly alongside equality. When we press into the Trinity we see that true love is marked by sacrifice and other-centeredness. The Triune God is the one who defines community and relationship—he shows us what it means.
That’s not all—the Triune God is also the one who saves and rescues us. The fact that our relationships and communities do not look like the Trinity means we have sinned. It means we are broken and need to be restored. All three persons of the Trinity in perfect unison to bring about this restoration. The Father is the architect of the rescue mission and the sender of the Son and the Spirit. The Son comes willingly and humbly to pay the ultimate price for our sin and rebellion. The Spirit empowers the Son to accomplish his task and then comes to apply to us the benefits of his death.
The great work of redemption and restoration pulls us into community with the Triune God—through God’s grace we can know fellowship within this perfect community. The Trinity changes our understanding and experience regarding true community. The Trinity then begins a work within us to take this community blueprint and flesh it out in our homes, in our jobs, in our neighborhoods and in our churches. In short, there are innumerable ways to apply the Trinity. When you start to think about how the doctrine of the Trinity can find feet in your life…everything changes!
This is true of all theology—the same thing happens when you ask that question about the atonement, the person of Christ, the person of the Spirit, the nature of man, the nature of the church and many other doctrines. How do we apply the image of God? How does the atonement affect how I think about my enemy? How do I apply the doctrine of the Holy Spirit? What does it mean for me that Jesus was a 9 year old boy at one time? How do I apply the doctrine of the universal church?
Wrestling with theology is richly edifying and rewarding. How much more when you work out how mind blowing truths can directly affect the very core of your family or job or life challenges.