What's the Big Deal?
There were three of us still hanging around in the church foyer after a
full day of teaching. Of the three hundred or so pastors who had attended the
seminar I'd been leading in Charlotte, North Carolina, these last two were
talking through discipleship strategies with me when I popped the question.
"So, what do you guys do to help your people get a biblical worldview?"
The taller of the two, balding and with twenty-plus years' experience in
the pastorate, wasted no time answering.
"We have missionaries speak in
our services several times a year. Every Sunday school class has time set aside
to read a brief report and pray about faith-related events happening in other
parts of the world. And we have a summer missions trip for families that always
fills up quickly," he proclaimed. "We work hard to make sure that they realize
the American Church is not the total sum of God's work in the world. Our people
His colleague, a decade his junior and relatively new to the
pastorate, took up the baton without missing a beat.
"What we do is
preach through the entire Bible every five years. We have all of our teaching
venues—the service, the Sunday school classes, the youth groups, even the cell
groups—focus on the same passages covered in the sermon that week, ensuring that
we give all the key scriptural principles adequate consideration. By the time
we're through the cycle, they've been exposed to all of the basic principles of
Christianity and will have a biblical worldview."
The two beamed;
clearly pleased they were on track. After complimenting each other they turned
to me, waiting for words of praise and encouragement. As the seconds ticked by
and I continued to gaze at them without responding, their smiles began to fade
and curiosity set in. The younger pastor finally asked, "That's what you meant,
|Global Perspective or Worldview?
I had a disappointing sense of deja vu. I have heard similar replies
countless times in the different areas of the United States where I go to teach
pastors and to learn from them. Not wanting to offend or discourage them, I
tried to ease into my reply.
"Well, those are very helpful activities,
for sure. It would be beneficial if more churches helped their people, as you
have, to develop a global perspective on God's work and to have regular teaching
related to the totality of His Word." I paused, searching for what I hoped would
be clear but not disheartening words. "But a biblical worldview is more than
I continued with what I prayed would be a persuasive description.
"A biblical worldview is thinking like Jesus. It is a way of making our
faith practical to every situation we face each day. A biblical worldview is a
way of dealing with the world such that we act like Jesus twenty-four hours a
day because we think like Jesus."
I offered an analogy: "It's like
having a pair of special eyeglasses we wear that enables us to see things
differently, to see things from God's point of view, and to respond to those
perceptions in the way He would prescribe if He were to provide us with direct
and personal revelation."
As we continued talking, these two pastors
raised questions about a biblical worldview similar to those of other pastors
and church leaders with whom I have had such discussions in the past several
years. It was clear that even though believers in this nation are in desperate
need of a biblical life lens, implementing such a developmental process in
churches, schools, homes, and ministries around the country was not going to
happen overnight. A lot of foundations need to be put in place
|What is the "Biblical Worldview"
For years I was scared off by the term "biblical worldview." It
had connotations of breadth and depth that were overwhelming. But the more I
realized that my own Christian life was a haphazard series of disjointed choices
only marginally and inconsistently influenced by my faith, the more determined I
became to get serious about worldview development.
We All Have
Once involved in the process, I soon learned that there is no
reason to be frightened about the concept of worldview development. Instead I
ought to be more worried by the fact that I already had a fully developed and
operational worldview that I wasn't even aware of!
While most people
never think about their worldview on a conscious level, everyone has one. Our
moment-to-moment decisions are shaped by the worldview we have adopted and
adapted over the course of time, often without realizing that we are dependent
upon such a framework for decision making.
Whenever we make a decision,
we unconsciously run it through a mental and emotional filter that allows us to
make choices consistent with what we believe to be true, significant, and
appropriate. That filter is the result of how we have organized information to
make sense of the world in which we live.
Without a worldview, we'd be
incapable of arriving at many of the hundreds of decisions we make each day
because every option would seem just as appealing as every other. To make even
minor choices we rely upon our sense of right and wrong, good and bad, useful
and useless, appropriate and inappropriate, to produce what we believe are the
wisest choices. From our earliest days out of the womb we have been creating
this understanding of how life works and the best options to
|A biblical worldview is a means of
experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality in light of biblical
perspective. This life lens provides a personal understanding of every idea,
opportunity, and experience based on the identification and application of
relevant biblical principles so that every choice we make may be consistent with
God's principles and commands. At the risk of seeming simplistic, it is asking
the question, "What would Jesus do if He were in my shoes right now?" and
applying the answer without compromising because of how we anticipate the world
|How Did Jesus Think Like Jesus?
Jesus was able to model a biblical worldview because He is God and thus
knows and embodies truth and rightness. Yet, the fact that He was human during
His time of physical presence on earth suggests that He also had to work at
maintaining a godly view of everything He encountered. His process was neither
accidental nor hidden: His exhortation to His disciples was "Let me teach you."
What can we learn from His approach to decision making?
The narrative of
Jesus' life gives us a sense that there were four elements working together that
facilitated His woridview.
First, He had a foundation that was clear,
reliable, and accessible. Second, He maintained a laser-beam focus on God's
will. Third, He evaluated all information and experiences through a filter that
produced appropriate choices. Fourth, He acted in faith.
What was the implacable foundation of Jesus' thoughts and
actions? The holy Word of God as recorded in the Scriptures. Jesus was not
content to simply have the Scriptures available at the nearest temple: He
memorized key passages in order to gain the guidance and assurance He needed in
pivotal moments. Even when He was instructing the disciples He would anchor His
teaching to core scriptural principles. When He scolded the religious leaders of
the day for their inappropriate decisions, He would challenge their knowledge
and interpretation of Scripture.
|Jesus' Focus |
Jesus in one
sense was the definition of narrow-minded: His focus was solely on knowing and
fulfilling the will of God. He sought to convey that theme to His followers,
informing them, "I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me,
not to do what I want." His great knowledge of the Scriptures would have
provided Him with the content of His focus, but how was He able to avoid the
distractions and lock on to God's will?
Jesus spent time alone with God,
seeking solitude to hear the voice of His Father in Heaven. He fasted in order
to remind Himself to focus on God. He identified and promoted His God-given
mission, seeing that purpose as the priority of His life. He prayed constantly
for guidance. The message to us is that when we passionately desire to focus on
God, and invest in doing so, God will foster the connection.
Jesus made very different decisions than the norm because He
filtered information through a different mental, emotional, and spiritual grid.
His filter eliminated assumptions and expectations in favor of a stringent
analysis of facts and scriptural principles. A stellar example of that
outside-the-box thinking was provided in the Sermon on the Mount. He challenged
people's ideas by reminding them, "You have heard... " before shredding those
erroneous views with a revolutionary "but I say..." Some of His statements
reflected simple but profound wisdom drawn from a deep well of discernment,
understanding of humanity, and basic biblical
|Jesus' Faith |
would have been intriguing from a scholarly perspective but powerless without
the faith to act upon His views. This insight lost upon many Christians who know
what's right but fail to do they know. Jesus demonstrates that a genuine
biblical woridview be backed up by action. Such action demands complete faith
doing what honors God, rather than men, is the only yardstick of success.
Jesus' faith was multifaceted. Notice, for instance, that He was
realistic, knowing that His efforts to do the will of God would cause Him
hardship and suffering. That realization did not deter Him because He had
weighed the alternative-self-directed activity in disobedience to God-and
recognized the futility and stupidity of fighting God. He could therefore take
what we perceive to be courageous action, but which He perceived to be the only
sensible path. He had no anxiety about the consequences because He knew that as
long as He honored God and allowed the Holy Spirit to work through Him, His
perspective choices were appropriate.
Is learning to think like Jesus
beyond our grasp? Not at all! God provided us with all the tools-the foundation,
the skills needed to focus and filter, and the means of faith-that enable us to
follow Jesus' example.