Our understanding of God (our theology) underpins our entire thought, words and actions.
I have friends, one in Samoa and another in New Zealand who were saved miraculously from certain death. Their understanding that there is a God who saved them for some purpose (their theology) has caused them both to act kindly and extraordinarily generously to others ever since. Others marvel but often do not understand their actions.
The extent to which we believe that there is a God who loves us will normally determine the extent to which and a strong reason why we will act with love towards others.
Likewise our belief that God will hold us accountable for our thoughts, words and deeds (i.e. that there is a consequence) will to a large extent determine how we conduct ourselves, even in private. Integrity, in the sense of acting the same in private and in public, is rare.
Some of my friends reject the Christian faith and live each day for the moment – a direct result of their theological stance. Some focus their energies on moneymaking activities; others on enjoying the moment with abandon. Their belief in some form of evolution is often a necessity despite ample evidence of Intelligent Design as of course acknowledging that there is a Creator begs the questioning of whom that Creator may be. Theology ruling again!
It cannot be overstated that what we believe about God determines all.
The Christian message of course gets more specific, drilling down to the question that Jesus asked of His own identity, answered so eloquently by the master of foot-in-mouth disease Peter, when he informed the world publicly for the first time that indeed Jesus was the Messiah. Such knowledge didn’t prevent him from future faux pas, but it did set him up for special opportunity when he became the first Christian preacher and secured a unique role in the early church.
The vast majority of the world, including Samoa lives by what I call “the nine commandments” – attempting to live by some moral standard, yet omitting the primary commandment, to have no other idols before the Lord.
I have no interest in listing anyone’s sins per se, but to a relatively recently arrived Palagi I observe that Samoa’s primary idol is it’s worship of the culture. How many times do biblical absolutes slip slightly in the presence of the subtle pressure of Faa Samoa? You see this clearly where “little white lies” abound.
The underlying theology to this cultural norm is that God always understands and forgives minor deviances from His absolutes when it suits us. I don’t subscribe to this view, but my point is not so much whether for example adultery or fornication is “just being a little adventurous” or a sin, more that our actions and thinking is determined by our theology.
My bible tells me that the Lord is a God of extraordinary detail and that even minor indiscretions or misbehaviour are sins that have lasting consequences. Preying upon God’s forgiveness, so common around me in Samoa, is nothing less than arrogance that will have serious consequences, for both an individual and a country.
I share often about the importance of faith. Exercising faith is the only thing scripture talks about that we can do ourselves that actually “pleases God”. Oh, if only Adam and Eve had chosen to exercise faith and believe the Creator when He explained things for them in the Garden of Eden!
We cannot reverse history, but we can definitely make it. Palagi Perspectives is one small step of faith, a small part of this history making. What’s yours?