Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 1:18-32 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: On a number of occasions at churches I have visited, I have heard earnest folks make statements to this effect: “It is not so important what we believe as long as we love people.” This seems a profound and provocative statement—but only if this remarkable statement of belief is true. If not, we could easily dismiss the sentiment.
It is intriguing—and sobering—how easily we can fall into fuzzy ideas about God, saying things that kind of sound right but do not make sense or cannot be sustained when they are thought about and studied more carefully. If this can happen for well-intentioned church people, how much more for those who actively resist the realities of God. As Paul warned, “they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused” (Romans 1:21, NLT). It is understandable that many people reject the possibility of believing in a God who is understood in ways that we would also reject. When we try to worship something less, worship itself becomes more difficult.
This is why good doctrine and careful thinking matter. At its best, doctrine is a faithful understanding and portrayal of God as the foundation for our best worship of Him and service to others. But much of our real doctrine does not come in carefully formulated statements; it comes in how we think and talk about God, how we allow ourselves to be challenged in an ongoing way by Jesus and what He taught, and how we live out what we say we believe. In these ways, it is so easy for us to settle for worshipping an idol—something we have become familiar with, but is always less than ultimate reality of God.
As such, what we believe is not more important than that we love people—not because this makes sense as a statement of belief, but because it is true. Indeed, it is something Jesus taught: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40, NLT).
Recalibrate: What is an example of something you have believed or said that is less than the whole truth about God?
Respond: Pray about our potential for thinking, believing, and acting better in the world.
Research: Spend time reading and reflecting on our Adventist “doctrine of doctrine” found in the preamble to the Statements of Fundamental Belief.Remember: They exchanged the truth about god for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the creator- who is forever praised amen. (Romans 1:25 NIV).
Nathan Brown is a writer and editor at Signs Publishing in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. He has written numerous books; his most recent is Engage: Faith that Matters.
Try a game of "jump in the love heart." Mark out a large love heart on the floor with tape. Ask your little one to get something they love and put it in the love heart with them. Grab photos of your family and friends and put them in the love heart too. God is love and He asks us to choose to be in love with Him.
Read the words that describe God at one end of your piece of string. Draw pictures, take photos, or print out images of all the good God has created and tape them near the words that describe who God is. Thank God for all the good things. (Part 2 of 5)
I have a list on my iPhone of all the times or ways I’ve seen the hand of God moving before me. In verse 20 it says that God's “eternal power” and “divine nature” have been “clearly seen.” Do you think you have ever seen these attributes of God in your own life? I would encourage you to make a list of these instances. I have overcome many obstacles and low points when I take the time to reflect on what He has done.