Theology is a labor of love. If it’s not, then it’s not theology; at least this is what Paul asserts in I Corinthians 13. And if theology is a labor of love it should have a transforming affect upon its practioners (Christian), because love is participating in God’s life of poured out otherness — in other words it takes us out of ourselves, and puts others first, which is where we find our identity, in Christ’s service. This why theology is a labor of love, it is God’s life in action!
What all of this presupposes is that theology is not primarily about finding “pearls of wisdom” here, pearls of wisdom there; no, theology is action. This kind of thinking was captured best by Martin Luther and his theology of the cross (I’m not going to go into all the details here); first we are acted upon (outside ourselves or passively) at the cross (put to death) with Christ, then we are given life with Christ by the Spirit — or resurrection power. This is where theology happens, it is this process of being constantly given over to the death of Christ so that His life is also manifested in our bodies. It is this “pentecostal” undertaking of mission that we have all been empowered to walk-out that now constitutes what it is that theology is all about — it is primarily action. It is as we act (or the Holy Spirit acts through us, as in Christ) in our similtude of being both sinner and righteous that we know Christ, and in turn make Him known; because to know is to act!
All I’m painstakingly trying to do is sketch what theology should really be, it’s what theologians like to call orthopraxy. Look at Jesus’ life, look at Paul’s life; both cruciform in shape, and thus action. It is as we act that we know, and know as we act. What I’m trying to underscore is that to be a theologian is to be one “of the cross!!!!” To not act, is to not be a theologian (but of glory, as Luther would call folks who acted “from themselves” or “for themselves” — which is not really to act, but is to leach off of true cruciform action — remember Simon in Acts).
To often, and this is the point of this garbled reflection, I have acted for myself in theology; thus I have not done theology at all (piss on that, and I don’t even like that word)! If I’m not going to live what I talk about constantly, if I am going to neglect relationships, neglect proclaiming the Gospel, neglect imitating God; then I’m no theologian at all! If my life is not inhabiting God’s life, then I can talk about Him all I want (but not to Him), and waste my life away; the mission of resurrection and ascension are lost on me, and thus you. There is power available only to act, and it is when we act that genuine knowledge of God is gained and even demonstrated!