Worldview is vital. I don’t really know how else to put it. In Romans 12, we find out a little bit of what it means to actually have a Christian worldview.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Our minds are entirely renewed. That implies a complete process. A Christian worldview does not change our theology. It should change every area of our lives. It is not just another thing that we can throw into our minds as a piece of random trivia. Christianity is more than that. It is more than a collection of facts. In fact, I would argue it is even more than a religion. It is a way of life, and it ought to infiltrate every other area of our lives.
For example, think about going to work. It would be entirely inconsistent for me to profess to be a Christian on Sunday but go to the office and act dishonestly. The Christian worldview would not allow that type of behavior. Being a Christian ought to also direct how I operate in the workplace as well as at church.
Some people want to have a disconnect between the secular and the sacred. Certain things apply to my church life, but they should not apply beyond those walls on days other than Sunday. That simply is not true for the Christian. Christianity is a bigger commitment than that. If we follow Christ, we can follow him on the days when we feel like that.
We live in a world of tolerance, and it seems to me that people are becoming less and less comfortable with affirming that certain views might be wrong. For Christians, this unpopular view comes with the territory. If Christianity is right, then if we take John 14 seriously, then other worldviews are wrong.
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
There are two possibilities here. Jesus is right, or Jesus is wrong. If Jesus is wrong, then Christianity is wrong. After all, it would be hard to sustain the belief that Jesus Christ is the perfect son of God if he was indeed not perfect. Therefore, in that perspective, Christianity would be wrong.
If Jesus is right, then a lot of other worldviews are bound to be wrong here. Jesus did not say He was one possible way. He explicitly says that no one is getting to God without Him. As a result, does the cycle of reincarnation and the positive acquisition of karma get you to God? Isn’t that just another path up the same mountain? If Jesus is right, then that simply is not true.
I think that this tells us something about the world today. We’re uncomfortable with commitment. We like to make decisions that have no potential consequences. Choosing a worldview is a decision that has consequences. If Christianity is right, there are implications that go along with that. The same applies to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism or any other belief system. They all make claims about the nature of reality as well as what we need to do. They all cannot be simultaneously true because some of those claims directly contradict each other. Don’t get me wrong, there are some moral values that overlap between the various religions. I’m not denying that, but I am saying that there are also substantial differences. We cannot broadbrush and simply say that all religions are the same. That would be blatantly false.
Therefore, we have to make a choice. If Jesus right, or is Jesus wrong? Is Jesus the only possible way to God?
Many of the most popular sayings of Jesus seem to come out of Matthew 22, but I am going to focus obviously on only
one in the time that we have together today.
Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
I am personally very interested recently in worldview studies, and it is vitally important for Christians. I think that verse 37 really sums up what a truly Christian worldview ought to be.
Loving God with all your heart makes me think about passion. We surrender our feelings to what God really wants. We can give our heart to a variety of things, but it needs to go to God, and if He calls us to do something, we need to follow.
Loving God with our soul strikes me as a little bit different than the heart. When I think about my soul, I think more about my eternal destiny and my deepest desires. The heart is more of the temporary passion whereas I feel like the soul is the things of eternal significance. Clearly, it is important to surrender those to God.
Finally, we need to love God with our minds. We need to use our minds in such a way that we bring glory to God. We need to use our minds in such a way that we are learning more about God and developing our relationship more closely with Him. The only way that we know things is by using our minds, and you develop a relationship with someone by learning more about him or her. I think the same applies to God in a way.
With these three things in line, we are going to have a Christian worldview. With God as the centerpiece of our short-term feelings, deepest desires and intellectual pursuits, our view of the world is going to be a lot different. We want to take a coherent and consistent perspective, and Christianity can do that.
God gives Zechariah a vision of a more peaceful Zion, and it is interesting because He outlines some things that will and will not be happening in this great future.
Zec 8:16 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
Zec 8:17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.
People are going to be honest. Notice that truth is mentioned twice. People are going to be honest with each other, and judgment is going to be executed based on the truth. There will not be twisted or unfair judgment.
In verse 17, it basically says that there will not be any dishonesty. You will not have these hidden feelings inside that you want to hurt your neighbor. That is a form of dishonesty. You will not make a promise you can’t keep. God takes promises very serious, and James even warns against them. Why? They are hard to keep, and if you do not, it is a form of dishonesty.
This chapter sounds like a very bright future, so it is very significant that if the people want that future, they ought to do what they are advised here.
I don’t think it is really rocket science that we should be honest. Most of us know that, and we have been taught that from some of our earliest memories. However, here is the challenge. I believe that we ought to be honest because we are commanded to be by honest here in Zechariah as well as in other places. However, I wonder if there is a basis for honesty from a purely secular worldview.
Notice that I am not saying that it is impossible to be honest without religion. That is not what I am saying at all. I am asking if there is an ethical principle in a secular worldview that teaches that it is good to be honest. I don’t know that there is.
I know that people like Sam Harris would argue that there is a way to objectively ground morals in a secular worldview. I am not as convinced. Secular people can certainly value honesty, and I would argue that almost all of them do. However, why do they ascribe that value? I would say that maybe they have been brought up in a Christian environment that has a reason for embracing honesty, and as a result have realized it works. They want that part of Christian values, but they don’t want the Christian part.
I just honestly do not understand where objective values like these can be grounded in a secular worldview. Let’s talk about it.
Recently, I have been particularly interested in this idea of worldview studies. I have been thinking a lot about how we seriously ought to consider the presuppositions and assumptions that influence the way we interpret the world around us. Once we have established which way of interpreting the world is most valid, then we are able to move beyond that and think about how and why things happen the way that they do.
This came to mind again as I was reading Jeremiah 17. There are basically two alternative choices presented. You can put your trust in God, or you can put your trust in man.
Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
Jer 17:6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
Jer 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
Jer 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Again, this all comes back to a very basic level of human understanding. No one is arguing over global warming for example at this level. Your worldview is not based on your understanding of specific issues; your worldview defines your understanding of specific issues. When you are deciding whether to trust in God or trust in man, you are basically putting on a pair of glasses that influence the way that you view the world. This metaphor is not perfect though because I can choose to take off my literal glasses I am wearing right now, but I cannot take off a worldview. I might change my worldview, but I cannot be without one.
In Jeremiah, we hear from God, and not surprisingly, He did not think that is wise to put your trust in man. He compares it to being in the desert where you have no ability to grow. In other words, you have no potential, and you have no hope. You are as much as you are ever going to be.
That is one major area where the Christian worldview differentiates. It is expounded in verse eight, but in summary, the Christian worldview provides the opportunity for growth and hope. From a secular worldview, the world is evil, and that is about all there is to it. Our greatest hope is in the potential of humanity to become more moral. Maybe we can all learn to get along after all.
Christians have an understanding as to why the world is imperfect but also the assurance that everything will be made right in the end. The greatest hope in that worldview is found in God Himself. With the understanding that humanity has been evil for a very long time because of the fall and doesn’t seem to be getting any nearer to perfection as time advances, in order to find that moral improvement, it is best not to look into this human heart but rather look externally to One who actually is perfect. In other words, we have reason to hope that things can and will get better.
Worldviews are important. Everyone has one, and it is important for all of us to look at which one provides the most accurate depiction of the world as we know it. Does it appear that humanity is very good at acting morally? It does not seem so. Does it make sense to assume that humanity is going to become better at acting morally? Human nature doesn’t seem all that much different than ever has. The preferred violations have changed, but it seems that there has always been crime and evil throughout recorded history. Does human potential seem like a reasonable place to put our moral hope? It doesn’t
Jeremiah doesn’t seem to be like the kind of guy who would hold back. As we read Jeremiah 10, we read some very harsh words for anyone who would worship any other God besides Jehovah God.
Jer 10:11 Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
Jer 10:12 It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
Jer 10:13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
Jer 10:14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.
Jer 10:15 They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
I think that verse 11 is kind of funny. The people he was speaking to in that situation are the people who would worship those other gods. Basically, he gets right to the root of the conflict. Some people believe that there are other gods, but those gods are going to perish. They are not real. They are delusions.
While obviously not politically correct by modern standards, you have to admire his ability to cut through all the niceties and identify the main difference of worldviews.
For Jeremiah, God existed from the beginning of time and created everything. For these other religions, the idols were created by people and simultaneously worshiped. I think that probably the people who believed in these religions would say that the idols were simply physical representatives of the gods that they actually worship, but this is slightly different because many of these gods were part of the creation themselves. For example, I know that in Greek mythology (which would obviously not be Jeremiah’s intended audience) all of the deities were created out of chaos and love. They were part of creation rather than the creators themselves. That seems to be pretty typical as far as I know in ancient mythologies.
This is an important lesson for us. We have a similar situation today where we live in a society of many worldviews. We need to think like Jeremiah and cut to the basic difference. Once we have found that point, we are in a position where we can have a discussion. We can debate peripheral issues all day, but I think that if we can find that root difference, our conversations will be much more profitable and beneficial.