In groups of super spiritual people, I am not very likely to be taken too seriously. I am pretty okay with this. I am really good at a lot of things. I can nap like nobody’s business. I’m probably one of the most committed Oreo eaters I know. I cannot explain my theology very well, though.
Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even know that I needed a personal theology. For my entire childhood and most of my adulthood I simply believed that God was pretty awesome and it was a pretty big deal that He sacrificed His son so that we could live with Him after we die. That was it. The end. I thought that was enough. Apparently that was not enough.
Several years ago I was talking to a friend. This friend is probably the most youth directory guy you have ever met. He even wears Teva sandals and cargo shorts. Like every day. This guy loved to work with kids and was always volunteering to chaperone youth trips and even work in the nursery. When I suggested that he apply for a youth director position that had opened up, he shook his head sadly and said. “Oh, I’ll never be a youth director.”
“Why the heck not?” I asked, confused. The only thing this guy was missing was the title.
“Because my theology is pretty much based on Veggie Tales movies.”
I have seen Veggie Tales movies. My two oldest children were pretty much obsessed with them twelve or so years ago. The theology seemed pretty sound to me. “God made you special, and He loves you very much.” What more was there? What would be so terribly wrong about using this as the base of all my decisions?
A couple of years later I went to a pastor’s conference with The Pastor. It was pretty much more like The Pastor dragged me to a pastor’s conference, but it was okay. I actually met a lot of very nice people who weren’t even stuffy at all. I was sitting with a group of ladies chatting and had made it like an entire fifteen minutes without saying something ridiculously inappropriate or awkward. This was a new record for me at the time and probably had something to do with the fact that I was sitting with a group of powerful and impressive women and had yet to open my mouth because I was a bit intimidated.
One of the women then started gushing. “Don’t you just love Aimee Semple McPherson? Isn’t Aimee Semple McPherson just the best? She has totally changed my life!”
I started looking around the room. This Aimee lady sounded pretty great and I wanted to meet her. I leaned over to the lady next to me and asked “Can you please point out this Aimee Semple McPherson to me?”
“Um, no.” She said, looking at me like there was seriously something wrong with me. This is a look I get often enough that I don’t really notice it any more. That is why I kept talking when normal people would have just blushed and shut up.
“Oh, well, is she going to be speaking at this event?” I asked eagerly.
“No,” the lady sighed patiently “Aimee Semple McPherson can’t speak anywhere because Aimee Semple McPherson is dead.”
Her tone said “Please shut up, you simple McPherson fool.” but I don’t always hear those simple social cues.
“That’s terrible!” I said, feeling appropriately sympathetic. I thought I was doing great socially at this point, so I decided to ask a socially appropriate question. “Is there going to be a funeral?”
The poor lady next to me now had a look on her face that I now recognize as “Dear Lord, please get me out of here!” She very slowly informed me “Aimee Semple McPherson died, like, before World War II started. I’m sure there was a funeral. We were not invited to it.”
The Pastor had a good chuckle when I relayed this story to him later that day. The Pastor knew right away who Aimee Semple McPherson was. One of the many big differences between The Pastor and I is that he remembers all of the names he has ever heard and knows who they all go with. I do not posses this talent. Not even a little. I have talents like Oreo eating, remember?
It turns out that Aimee Semple McPherson was something of a theologian. She thought a lot about God and then told other people about her thoughts. People who want great theologies study people like her to create their own great theologies. I do not have a great theology so I have tried to study these theologians over the years. I have read their books and listened to their speaking. Here is the thing. To me, it all seems to boil down to ” God is pretty awesome and it was a pretty big deal that He sacrificed His son so that we could live with Him after we die” and “God made you special, and He loves you very much.” There is also a lot of what I call dirty theology. That boils down to “We are all filthy sinners and should live in shame for the rest of our lives.” I don’t really listen to dirty theology because I think that if God was able to move beyond my sin, then I probably shouldn’t dwell on it either.
I think what we are supposed to dwell on is
Oreos loving each other. And I don’t mean that spiteful loving each other that we do only because God requires it. “You disgust me but God says I’m supposed to love you so I’m going to make us both miserable!” That’s not actually love. I’m talking about love like embracing and enjoying people regardless of their beliefs, lifestyles, or ability to annoy. I’m talking about loving people not to change them, but to soften your own heart and gain a new friend. I’m talking about loving people, not so you have yet another person to look down on, but someone else to lift up. It’s hard work, but you can do it, because God really did make you special, and He really does love you very much.
This is my theology. It’s pretty Veggie Tales. No one is hiring me as their youth director. It’s okay, because while it isn’t complicated, I can explain it to a six year old. According to Einstein, that means I understand it. And that is enough.
Now, I need to go find some more Oreos because this post made me hungry.