For The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.
“Theology shows itself over time, in the way we live, the way we relate, the way we communicate and in the way we worship…Our theology shows up, often when we least expect it…” 
Months before I began this course on worship theology, my own theology (some of the good, lots of the bad) started showing up unexpectedly. My responses to painful circumstances have made me realize many of the lies I believe. I know they are lies, but they have deep roots. They are unbecoming and yet somehow comfortable, like my old ripped jeans or my bad habits.
I could just go on living with my bad theology. It wouldn’t be ideal, and it would surely be frustrating, but it also wouldn’t be difficult. Problem is, I’m teaching theology—the good, the bad, the downright untrue—whether I intend to or not.
When I lead worship, when I draw a picture, when I have a conversation, I am teaching theology. I am communicating (consciously or unconsciously) what I believe to be true about God, about humanity, and about the world in which we live.  I may have learned to cope with my own bad theology, but I know I don’t want to transfer these burdens onto anyone else.
In his book Simply Christian, N. T. Wright lays a framework for theology by discussing four “echoes of a voice” that point “beyond our landscape of contemporary culture and out into the unknown.”  He lists these “echoes” as our longing for justice, our thirst for spirituality, our desire for relationship, and our attraction to beauty.  Of these four, I am most energized by a cry for justice.
I see a God of justice and His followers’ appeals to this part of His character throughout scripture (Psalm 94:1-2, Psalm 103:6, Isaiah 59, and Lamentations 3:55-66 to name a few).
Indignation and anger rise up in me when I see or experience injustice. When I see people wronged, even in works of fiction, my heart burns within me. I want to see things set right.
The problem is that I do not understand God’s justice. I often feel like the prodigal son’s older brother, like I’ve been working and working and not getting my due…or worse yet, I feel like I’m being mistreated while others are being blessed. But I, too, have run from God in my own way. I seem to want grace for myself, but I want “justice” for others. Wright says, “The line between justice and injustice…can’t be drawn between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It runs right down through the middle of each one of us. ”  As Paul laments in Romans, “What I want to do I do not do…for what I do is not the good I want to do.” 
I feel like Mack, the protagonist in William Paul Young’s novel The Shack, who is called to an encounter with God after experiencing an unspeakably tragic loss. In his pain and questioning, Mack hears these words:
You really don’t understand yet. You try to make sense of the world in which you live based on a very small and incomplete picture of reality. It is like looking at a parade through the tiny knothole of hurt, pain, self-centeredness, and power, and believing you are on your own and insignificant. All of these contain powerful lies. You see pain and death as ultimate evils and God as the ultimate betrayer, or perhaps, at best, as fundamentally untrustworthy…you don’t think that I am good…
This may, unfortunately, describe some of my own theology. But I know this is not the theology I want, and it is certainly not the theology I want to teach.
May God redeem me and my thirst for justice, and may He gently correct my bad theology so that when I lead worship, I will teach truth.
1. Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Theology: An Introduction (New Brunswick: The Institute of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies, 2008), Essentials Blue Worship Theology Online Course Text, p.3.
2. Wilt, p. 2.
3. N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), p. xi.
4. Wright, p. 51.
5. Wright, p. 6.
6. Romans 7: 15-19, The Holy Bible, New International Version (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1991).
7. William Paul Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, California: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 126.