Eugene Cho

what is the most important thing?

Over the course of this past weekend and my recent post about hell, universalism, exclusivism and other exclusive elititistic theological words and constructs, I’ve shared on numerous occasions both my deep appreciation for theology and simultaneously, the danger of theology. I wrote:

Theology is important. No matter what others may say or think, it has great value and importance. In fact, I would contend that one of the aspects that ails the Church is the lack of theological depth and substance. The [C]hurch are a bunch of lightweight theological dummies.

But my point is that while theology is indeed very important, it’s not the most important thing. If theology was the most important thing, we’d be screwed as salvation would rest in humanity’s ability to understand with absolute clarity.

Depending on how you approach the theological process, it’s understandable for people to formulate or arrive to the natural question:

“What then is the most important thing?”

and even more so…

“How do we arrive at the revelation of the most important thing apart from theology?”

Again, I’m not discounting the importance of theology. It is very important; It helps us to arrive at the most important thing but what I’m trying to convey is that “the most important thing” is not just a thing. It is the amazing and infinite God and God exists and endures apart from our theology. God’s existence, glory, and truth does not hinge on humanity’s ability to “theologize” and comprehend and this is good news because our human finitude cannot fully grasp the infinitude of God.

The good news for us today, tomorrow, and all the days of our lives is that Truth is not merely propositional.

God is not abstractual; God is not conceptual; God is not nebulous; God is not distant; God is not angry

God has become personal to us.

This Truth has become personified in the person of Jesus Christ.

God has descended. God has come to us. God, through his Son, Jesus, has moved into our neighborhood and into our hearts. Jesus who was fully God – yet chose to become fully human and in great love, chooses obedience – even unto death – so that we might be reconciled.

Salvation has been given so that we would be reconciled and and be compelled to live as agents of God’s work of salvation and reconciliation in the world.

And while we do arrive and continue to arrive and grow in that revelation through the humble process of theology, there is great danger when we place too much faith in the human process of theology – however robust, righteous, or right we might think of ourselves. This philosophical thinking puts us back to square one where – with different words – we’ve masked Christianity as humanity’s attempt and ability to understand. And thus, a Christianized version of religion.

The great remedy: We worship God and not ourselves.

Have I thoroughly confused you?

In other words, remember…

we love God…because God first loved us!
1 John 4:19

Listen to this recent sermon. Preaching from Philippians 3:1-7, I attempt to answer the question about the most important thing.

What makes us uniquely Christian…is the unique work of Christ.

Filed under: bible, faith, Jesus, , ,

18 Responses

  1. […] What is the Most Important Thing? – Eugene Cho Arab Youth Want Democracy, Not Theocracy – John Esposito, CNN Knowing Your Neighbor is a Powerful Force for Religious Civility – David Briggs, Huffington Post Give Me a Stone – Shawn Michael Shoup, Youth Specialties Universalism as a Lure? The Emerging Case of Rob Bell – Al Mohler Happy 400th, King James Bible! – Jon M. Sweeney, Huffington Post 7 Reasons to Lead Your Church in Church Planting – J.D. Payne, Building Church Leaders Unbroken: The Shocking Story of the Happiest Man I’ve Ever Known – Mark D. Roberts 5 Things to Remember About Winning People Over – Kem Meyer Angry Birds App v. Meditation App – Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Get Religion What if Drugs Were Legal… – Marolin Watson, Christian Today 5 Things I’m Surprised I Can’t Find in the Bible – R.C. Sproul, Jr. (When) Is Lying Wrong? – Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy Thoughts About Rob Bell, John Piper, and Justin Taylor – Jason Boyett 2 Thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha – Kevin DeYoung Almost Famous – Jay Cooper Foster Parents Defeated by the New Inquisition – Telegraph Faith Groups Challenge Gays to ‘Debate’ Not ‘Hate’ – CBN News Is Islam to Blame for Lagging Arab Economies? – NPR View Shane Raynor's Profile      Subscribe via RSS Leave a Comment […]

  2. Andy M says:

    If theology was the most important thing, then I think that Jesus, 2000 years later, would still be here trying to get us to understand God (no cross or resurrection), and we humans in our vast wisdom would likely be trying to tell the Son of God what he’s understood incorrectly about God.

    I love talking theology, but I thank God that I don’t have to take a Theology final for entrance to His Kingdom.

  3. elderj says:

    but… all of those bolded statements you made ARE theology…

  4. John Cook says:

    I agree in sentiment to what your saying, but I think the point of the “issue” is missed a little. This post and the one before came out of the Rob Bell issue. I don’t think that Piper, Justin Taylor, or any of the other “neo-calvinist” that have commented on Bell’s vid/book would agree with you that Theology is not the most important thing. I think they would clearly agree that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the God that that gospel reconciles us to is the most important thing. I think the issue being raised by these guys is not trying to make Theology more important, but standing up for battle for the sheep of God against a teaching that could clearly lead them astray. I think this is definitely what Paul means when he tells the Ephesian elders to stand guard against the wolves that would rise up “from among your own selves speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Is this not what you see as happening?

    So again, I agree with you that theology is not the most important thing, but that does not mean we should not stand against bad theology when it is leading sheep to the wolves. And before you come back with, “yeah, but who deems ‘bad theology’,🙂 let me say that, from what we know from book description and Rob’s video, if he’s leaning the perceived way it’s clearly not a gray theological issue, and should be stood against for the sake of the sheep.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      john,

      thanks for agreeing in sentiment.😉

      and yes, i concur with you as well. as i shared in the previous post:

      I liked the original post by Justin Taylor that set off the firestorm. I actually think it’s important and on occasion, for people to “fight” and contend for our convictions.

      if there’s some encouragement that i’ve found in the recent chaos, it’s the fact that people are willing to contend for their convictions – whatever they may be.

    • Andy M says:

      We should stand against bad theology, but I would disagree with your statement about whether it is a gray theological issue, concerning Rob Bell’s book and such. There is enough disagreement by intelligent faithful people out there that makes the issue up for discussion. For every Christian who thinks Rob Bell is speaking heresy, there is a Christian who sees truth in his teachings. This is not just a black and white issue.

      • John Cook says:

        Andy, the stance that it seems Rob Bell has taken is that a loving God would not ever really send someone to hell. The problem with this stance is, well…the Bible. If you take this stance then the Bible is full of lies, more importantly Christ came to earth, suffered and died for no reason at all, and excepting his payment for our sin by faith in Him is not needed. These are in no way gray issues. These are the very foundation of our faith. I would contend that if a “christian” is preaching this as the “gospel,” then it is a severely false gospel and even damnable.

        I appreciate your challenge of my comment, but I cannot agree with you that Bell’s stance is a gray issue. That stance tears down the very foundation of our faith.

        • Andy M says:

          First, you have simplified Rob Bell’s take on this to a point I highly doubt he would agree. He says a lot more on the subject, and I’m sure he will say a lot more on the subject in his book. To assume that all he believes is, “a loving God would not ever really send someone to hell.” as his complete answer to the question is to not listen to anything else he says.

          Second, the subject of heaven and hell is a gray area as scripture is incredibly vague and unhelpful when you are trying to figure out the details (maybe it was meant that way). More people think that heaven and hell are like what Dante and Milton imagined than what scripture gives us.

          I’ve read good challenges to the traditional views of heaven and hell (ones that account for sin and uphold justice as well as mercy and grace), and while I haven’t decided exactly what I believe is correct, I have seen enough to know it isn’t just a black and white, believe this one particular perspective or you destroy the faith, issue.

  5. Our theology is a description of what we believe God says about himself. It is formulated by sinners, people who a prone to deceive themselves and one another. It cannot be perfect. Piper’s theology cannot be perfect, Taylor’s theology cannot be perfect, Bell’s theology cannot be perfect, my theology cannot be perfect.

  6. I don’t know anyone who’s chosen this for their “life verse,” but one of my favorite and most impactful lines in the Bible comes in Hebrews – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” It’s incredibly comforting to me in a world that is so unstable. Christ will not be changed, whatever we think of him, whatever we think we know about him, however we treat him, however we change. He is the only constant in a universe full of variables.

  7. Jim Chen says:

    Thanks Pastor Eugene for making us aware of what’s going on! The most important thing is GOD and GOD’s revealed Son, the LORD Jesus Christ, and GOD is TRUTH, but when you come by His side, He tells you the most important things are the people you CAN reach for Him. Not reaching, overreaching, just love them by serving, just stay connected to them faithfully, in this way, ‘room is made’ for the Spirit of the LORD, Who really does the ‘work’. He/She will tell you what to do. We’re just helping, but in helping we are helped and blessed. It is the most amazing witness to see GOD moving and working, and humbling yet exhilarting at the same time to be a part of Him. He really wants to love and love in return, but we must pass throu the FIRE of Servanthood before we can reach the Paradise of His House. It is not easy, and there are those who have it. Be encouraged and go forth!

  8. […] me song, email made easier,….. really?, Piper on no-one ever speaking like Jesus, Cho on the most important thing, Liddell and running the race, Ed Youngs advice to young leaders, leadership complexity, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

my tweets

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK

advertisements

Blog Stats

  • 3,418,700 hits