It hit me late yesterday afternoon. We had been to our family doctor for check-ups, blood work, renewing prescriptions, flu shots, oh, a taking a slice of a mole on my shoulder for a biopsy. That last part wasn’t part of the plan. But perhaps it was that last one that led me to these thoughts: The Church Today Needs A Potato Theology. Are you scratching your head now, wondering where this left-handed maniac is headed? I know I’m thinking that, so stay with me a moment.
The nurse practitioner isn’t expecting anything bad from the biopsy of that mole. But…but to be sure she needed to get beneath the surface to know for certain. Then I started thinking about potatoes. Growing up with a Dad who loved to garden, I clearly remember that sometimes he planted potatoes. Most of the other fruits and vegetables he grew could be seen. But potatoes–all one could see is the plant. And they didn’t look like the french fries I so dearly loved. Oh, and the mashed potatoes. Before I could savor those flavors, I had to wait…wait until what was beneath the surface could be brought up. And it is now what I realize the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me.
The Bible is a lot like the simple potato. What we need and long for isn’t found at the surface, you have to dig down into it. It’s what I’m calling a “Potato Theology”–a theology that goes beyond the surface, and to the heart. Now, I know some, actually a lot of folks who openly say, “I’m not a theologian, I’m a Christian!” And they wonder why the church is suffering such great losses. Look at that word: Theology. It comes from 2 Greek words: Theos which means “God” and Logia which means “to reason or to study.” Theology is to study and think about God. To say you are not into theology or being a theologian means you are not into studying about God.
A Christian who claims they are not a theologian is saying “I’m not a thinking Christian.” Such an attitude fails to fully love God. Isn’t the greatest commandment to love God with all your heart, MIND, soul and strength (Mark 12:30)? The place, the best place, the foundation place to study about God is the Bible. But many, way too many, read only the surface words. And the result is that though they deny they have a theology, they do have one, and a poor one at that.
For example, many people believe that divorce disqualifies one from being a pastor and quote Titus 1:6 as their proof. That phrase “husband of one wife” in the Greek is ane mia gyne. It literally means “be faithful to the woman”. The Greek word for divorce is apolyo. Not present in Titus 1:6. Then there’s all those who quote from the Old Testament without understanding what is being said. Some use Leviticus to back up their point without discerning the different kinds of laws God gave the Hebrews. Some were moral laws while others were health laws. Unless one studies deeply they can mistake health laws needed to protect the population from sickness and disease, and consider them moral laws. For example, pork and shell-fish back then could contain all kinds of deadly bacteria. They didn’t know anything about bacteria, so God tells them not to eat those items. But today, we have health codes to protect us from those deadly bacteria.
It’s not always easy to discern what the Bible says. But because it’s not easy, doesn’t mean it is impossible. Use good resources to explore deeper. And thanks to this varmint called the internet, you don’t have to pay for tons of books or spend time in your local library. All I’m saying is that just as the best part of the potato lies beneath the surface, the best parts of the Bible are beneath the surface words.
Words cannot contain the wisdom of eternity, so we need more. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us through this awesome and powerful book. Take the time to go beyond the surface, beyond what others have said a passage means. Discover it for yourself. It’s not what’s on the surface we need most of all, but the Truth that lives deeply within these words. Without that deep dive into scriptures, we will reduce the Good News of The Kingdom to a list of rules, a list of “do this” and “don’t do that”, which results in a lot more “don’t do that”. Thus, a disciple of Jesus is reduced to what they don’t do, rather than the Holy Spirit that lives in them.
In short, we need to quit judging people based on what’s on their surface. Body piercings, tattoos, designer suits, how they fix their hair, wearing jewelry–all on the surface. Even Jesus made the point in Matthew 15 that it’s not the external that matters, but the internal. And when God went searching for a king to replace Saul, He looked deeper than surface appearances, He searched for a king who would share His own heart.
So, you see, we do need that POTATO THEOLOGY, one that looks beyond what’s one the surface. Let’s all dig deeper, it’s where the really good stuff is…..
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him….and get that shovel out and start digging, thar’s gold in them thar’ hills!