My favorite sound in the world is the sound of an airplane touching down on the runway after a successful fight. Can you hear it? You see a tiny puff of smoke and the sound goes, “irrrrt!” That sound represents all the training of the pilot put into action. You see, it is not enough for the pilot to have an academic knowledge flying, nor is it even enough for the pilot to practically know the proper procedures to land, but he must also actually, or operationally, land the plane!
The levels of academic, practical, and operational knowledge are very important to the Christian as we listen to God’s Word and seek to obey Him in the Spirit of Jesus. Entire generations have been taught about “correct” theology and how to apply it, but have never in fact done so. Rather than focus, as God does, on living out the faith, they argue about doctrine and sometimes never seem to live it out. It is almost like they are pilots who can’t seem to land the plane. This is what is known as dead orthodoxy. Christians can argue all day about correct theology, we can even claim to know how to live, but until we actually live out the gospel our faith has not become operational. We haven’t landed the plane! We need our faith to be not just practical but operational.
Operational theology is what is happening at the level of heart, what one really believes in the moment in time, and what we are passively or proactively acting on. So often we miss this crucial step in our spiritual lives. It just isn’t enough to talk about what we believe, nor even how to live, we must also actually live it out!