At the Spirit of Revival men’s conference in Massachusetts I heard one of the most basic concepts put forth in a sermon. But this sermon, though basic in theology, was by far one of the most convicting sermons I’ve probably ever heard. It was one of those moments when you attend a Christian conference for a weekend thinking you’re pretty spiritual and on course with what God expects out of you, and then you hear a sermon that makes you feel very, very, very small. It was incredibly humbling to be face to face with how far I really was from where I needed to be.
So, what was this basic concept that was sermonized so well? Do you have any idea what a “worldview” is? Do you have any idea how this “worldview” affects our spiritual walk? Do you know how many people everyday are affected by actions and decisions you make with regard to this “worldview?” Your boss, your family, your church, your whatever reaps the benefits or suffers the consequences of your “worldview.”
Each of us possesses a world-view. Your world-view is the way you perceive life. Your “worldview” is made up of certain beliefs, principles and truths through which you filter all information you encounter in your life, and through which all your decisions are made. Your world-view is your philosophy of life; it is the way life works; it is what is “true for you”! All ethical and moral choices and subsequent behaviors are a direct result of your belief system. Your world-view is the product of all the information, education, conversation, ideas and experiences you absorb to form your values, morals and beliefs.
For example…drinking alcohol is highly spoken against in the Bible but I could say that in France, it’s actually all right because it’s more a cultural thing than an abused practice. Well, this would be considered cultural relativism, and believe me, after taking one course in grad school about counseling various cultures and ethnicities, there are many, many things being done contrary to what the Bible teaches all in the name of culture. If you grow up in a European country like France and have always drank wine in the same light as soda or milk, then the acceptance of wine is a direct result of your worldview which was formed from your youth, and it is through that lens that you see nothing wrong with drinking…even though it is contrary to the Bible.
So, the first question to ask is this…what shapes our worldview? You probably think that you’re a pretty good Christian and you would say that the Bible is what either has, or is developing your worldview. That would be great if that were true. But it’s not. According to research that was done, only one Christian in four bases their moral and ethical decisions based on the tenets found in the Word of God. That leaves a whopping 75% of professing Christians who don’t! Not only that, but the same research shows that just one born-again Christian out of seven believes the Bible teaches moral absolutes and chooses to live out all their decisions based upon those absolute truths. Only one Christian in seven will thumb their nose to cultural relativism. The others either don’t, or are inconsistent in their practice.
If we believe the Bible to be nothing more than a guide book full of suggestions and not commands, then who else tells us how to live our lives? Let’s start with ridiculous sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, King of Queens, and Still Standing where we laugh at the portrayal of families with weak and feeble father figures in the homes…and then model our families on that premise.
Let’s indict Oprah who will say on national television that there are many ways to Heaven and pander to the people who are into everything from the occult to New Age philosophies. Soon, we can hear mainstream Christians touting the same thing when they talk about the benefits of ecumenism and how Christians need to bridge the gap and appreciate our differences…and we believe them! But here’s the thing…only one in seven Christians is able to say NO to such things. They believe John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Now here’s the question…do we believe it? We certainly know it…but do we believe it? If we believe it, why is it that six in seven will side with the ecumenists? The Bible either says what it says, or it doesn’t. And here’s the convicting part. Our actions will reflect how strongly we believe that. If John 14:6 is true, and we believe it to be true because the Bible says it, then we must also believe what the Bible says about those who are not born again and where they will spend eternity…with the devil and his angels in everlasting fire (Matt 25:41). So are we witnessing? Are we active in taking part in activities designed specifically to get the Gospel to people? Are we being conscious to live lives that are clean testimonies so that others may see a difference in us and perhaps lead to an opportunity to share the Gospel?
Oh sure…I can count myself as the “one in seven” to stand firm behind Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” There is no such thing as evolution, as per my belief, based upon the Bible, and Genesis 1-2 doesn’t even leave room, in my eyes, for debate about “intelligent design.” God did it in seven days because the Bible says that’s how it happened.
Yet, the other night, I was at a sandwich shop and a girl wandered in and she was obviously high on drugs. She went in one door, and out the other without saying anything…barely able to keep her eyes opened. She was obviously impaired. I got out to my car and wrestled with what I should do. I knew I should take that opportunity to help her in some way. Just about every fiber of my being was telling me to. But I had no tracts on me and I came up with at least 5 different reasons why it wasn’t a wise idea to approach this girl (it was dark, she could become violent, etc). So I drove away praying that God would spare her from an overdose until He could send a stronger Christian her way that would witness to her. Praying a prayer of that sort doesn’t feel very good on the inside…especially if you claim to believe John 14:6…like I do.
One point Pastor George Grace kept reinforcing to us is the idea to ask, in every situation: What Would Jesus Do? To decide what Jesus would do requires knowledge of the person of Jesus. That comes from studying Jesus’ life in the writings of the New Testament. Here’s what we need to learn about how Jesus lived what He believed and what shaped His worldview.
1. Jesus’ Foundation – The Word of God as recorded in Scripture – He memorized key passages (and fought off temptation from the devil in Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus would challenge His hearers, saint or not, with the correct personal interpretation and application of Scripture.
2. Jesus’ Focus – Narrow-minded – His focus was solely on knowing and fulfilling the Father’s purpose and mission for His life (John 4:34; Luke 2:49).
3. Jesus’ Filter – All info was processed through a spiritual filter, the filter of truth, reality, facts, holiness and eternal value. We have that…it’s called the Bible.
4. Jesus’ Faith – He proved belief by action. In John 4 he witnesses to a woman at a well. Not much different from the opportunity I let get away from me. He demonstrated the extent to which His beliefs governed His actions.
I’ve shared with you a gigantic weak area in my Christian life (that I’m working on) but it’s a crystal clear example of how the things we claim to believe, and the actions we take, directly affect others…for the good or for the worse. Just as Jesus’ beliefs shaped His worldview, His worldview guided his actions. I’ve really got to ask God why I have difficulty in witnessing, especially when I claim to believe John 14:6…but as it stands, my inaction doesn’t reflect my beliefs…so something’s amiss.
I think what probably happens to most people, myself included, is there is a disconnect for a while until an absolute truth like John14:6 goes from being “head” knowledge to “heart” knowledge. We can rationally understand something, but that’s different than believing something and being able to act on those beliefs. Here’s the proof to back up that belief: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
If we believe Genesis 1-2, we will gladly argue against evolution of any kind. If we believe God put men in authority over their families, we’ll speak out against shows that destroy that image. If we believe John 14:6, we’ll witness more. Just like in Jesus’ life, what we believe will be translated into action.
What would Jesus do? is not just a cute catch phrase, it makes perfect sense and is the yardstick by which we measure what we believe. Would Jesus drink wine in France? No. Would Jesus watch ungodly sitcoms? No. Would Jesus walk away from a girl outside a sandwich shop? No. But we all do those things, and many others. So many times against what we SAY we believe.
Let me offer you the help that Pastor Grace gave to us. To determine how and why we believe what we believe, we need to examine what is feeding us information all week and how that will shape our worldview. Ten hours a week, or more, of sitcoms and maybe ten hours of Dr. Phil and Oprah and another several hours of reading Harlequin Romance novels and on and on and on provides us with copious amounts of varying beliefs and values. Generally, the world’s philosophies are contrary to the Word of God. The majority of Christians will go to church on Sunday morning, at least. So all those hours each week of getting contradictory values, morals, and ethics cannot be fixed by what Pastor Grace called, “the forty-minute sermon.”
Nothing can compete with God for our affections if we are going to be disciples making a difference in this life (2nd Timothy 2:4). Everything from movies to music to television, and even hobbies have to be looked at in that light. If it’s contradictory to the Bible, it must be avoided. If it gets in the way of learning and studying about the life of Jesus to be able to answer the WWJD question, it should be avoided. Let’s lay aside every weight and besetting sin. It all starts with you and me as individuals, growing and teaching our families, to create a unified local church that can be used of God to bring about fruit, and then much fruit.
That sandwich shop incident was enough to get me thinking seriously about things I had yet to bring to the forefront of my mind…what about you…