Thinking theologically can be a tough thing to do—even for us pastors. That’s because we focus most of our energy and attention on what I all “the horizontal” aspects of ministry. Thinking vertically is a discipline few have mastered.
We much prefer to live in the here-and-now realm, seeing life horizontally as others see it, dealing with realities we can . . .
We are much more comfortable with the tactile, the familiar, the logic shaped by our culture and lived out in our times.
But God offers a better way to live—one that requires faith as it lifts us above the drag and grind of our immediate little world.
It opens new dimensions of thought and introduces a perspective without human limitations. In order to enter this better way, we must train ourselves to think theologically.
Once we’ve made the switch, our focus turns away from ourselves, removing us from a self-centered realm of existence and opening the door of our minds to a God-centered frame of reference, where all things begin and end with Him.
God called Jeremiah to minister Israel on His behalf.
Jeremiah was afraid to accept the assignment because, from his perspective, he was too young, too inexperienced—and he feared the response of God’s people. A purely horizontal perspective. Can you relate?
The Lord silenced such horizontal thinking by telling Jeremiah that He knew him even before he was conceived and had set him apart for this work, long before he was born.
God also promised to protect him and to deliver him and to use him mightily. That started Jeremiah thinking theologically–in other words, on a more “vertical plane.”
Jeremiah needed to obey without fear or hesitation. Hard times would surely come—all of which God had ordained and purposed in His plan.
But Jeremiah could take great comfort in knowing that God would be faithful even amid the inevitable hardships of ministry.
God had called him and would protect him. And even the opposition Jeremiah would encounter (which God permitted to occur) would not stop or alter God’s plan (which He had decreed would occur.)
Take a moment right now and read the previous paragraph again. Read it out loud, if at all possible. As you do, replace Jeremiah’s name with your own.
Did you do it? If you did, you’re already thinking more theologically.