Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:15-17
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
"Good theology produces good psychology."
My friend Liz Dyer says that, and I think it's really true.
I think that's what Jesus and St. Paul were talking about in those verses above: whatever you believe about God will show up in your life, for good or for evil.
Your theology may match up in every particular with the most excellent systematic theology ever created by humankind.
But let me ask you, in the famous words of Dr. Phil, "How's that working for you?"
And how's your excellent theology working out for the people around you? For the poor, the sick, the suffering?
How's that fruit looking?
How is that theology working for you?
Does it bring you love and joy, peace and patience?
How is theology working for your neighbor?
Does it bring your neighbor kindness and gentleness, goodness and faithfulness?
If your good theology doesn't work out to good fruit in real life--your real life, your neighbor's real life--then maybe it's not good theology.
I grew up with a theology that said, "God loves you, BUT."
And it was a big BUT.
God loved us, BUT we had to do all this stuff, just right, or else.
And, as we all know, that ended up in a nervous breakdown for yours truly, after doing all the things all the right way for as long as humanly possible.
Learning to trust that God loves me PERIOD was the turning point of my life.
And you know what? The more I believe that God loves me, the more I trust that Love is enough, the more I live and move and have my being in Love?
The more my life is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control.
(And BTW I don't think self-control means that I don't eat chocolate or drink wine. I think self-control means I control me, instead of trying to control you or God or the rest of the world. Healthy boundaries. That's what self-control is all about.)
Good theology, good psychology.
It's working for me.
How's your theology working for you?