Last week we looked at how story shapes the way we see everything in the world. You can read it here. This week, we're going to explore the ways in which understanding worldview will shape our Christian lives through discipleship.
The Christian life, the Christian world in fact, is founded on the gospel. The gospel is a big idea, but at its very core it is basically the truth that God’s primary business in our world is fixing everything that sin has broken. This begins with the redemption of souls, but extends to every negative consequence of sin in our world. Death, sickness, hate, hunger; all the things people point to and say, “Look at that. Where is God in that?” God is, through the message of the gospel, transforming the lives of people who then go out and right those wrongs.
God has decided, in His wisdom, that His message would spread and His people would multiply through one person coming alongside another, sharing the Good News, sharing life, walking together and then reaching out to ever more and more people. Our human relationships, in all their imperfection, variations, and deep complexity, are the very means God is using to fix what sin has broken. It all begins with people, changed by God, and spirals out from there.
Our mission as Christians is a mission that’s built on relationships with other people. Those other people are seeing and experiencing everything, including you, through the lens of their worldview.
When we’re interacting with another person, we tend to approach them as 'actions determined by a set of beliefs.’ This is incomplete. It’s easy, because we can simply outline for them a new belief system, and if they reject it, whatever consequences their actions bring about are their own problem. That approach doesn’t work though, because people are not primarily a belief system. There is a more foundational force at work. People are primarily made up of a story. That story gets written by their personal experiences, then it shapes their worldview, which in turn has created or adopted a belief system as a means of finding redemption, a way of ‘fixing’ what can only be fixed by God through the gospel.
Relationships are formed when we make connections with other people. Once we understand that everyone has a story that has shaped the way they see the world, then we can set about the hard work of becoming familiar with that story, and at the same time share our own stories, which is the only way to create the type of connections with others that can powerfully facilitate the life-altering change of the gospel. These relationships are the foundation of discipleship.
In addition to being critical to forming those life-changing discipleship relationships, our worldviews themselves are a target of the gospel change God is bringing about in the world. Our worldviews have to be brought in line with God’s ultimate reality. No longer can we interpret things solely through the lens of our experiences. We must also, perhaps primarily, interpret everything through the lens of Scripture. We have to learn what the Bible says about the true nature of things, and with the help of the Holy Spirit see things the way they really are. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans when he said we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Our worldview has a lot to do with our identity. In our individual stories, we tend to put ourselves in the role of either God or victim. Either of these false identities will create all manner of behavior that does not glorify God. In this way, our worldview determines our identity, which determines our actions. In a biblical worldview, we see ourselves as children of God, co-heirs with Christ, saved by Jesus’ work on the cross, and made righteous by faith. In this way, sanctification, the process by which God is making us more and more like Jesus, is really a question of worldview. Instead of a worldview which leads to a false identity and sinful behavior, we are given access to a redeemed worldview and a true identity and righteous behavior.
Beyond identity, there are myriad ways in which our worldviews must be brought into sync with God's ultimate reality. The question many people struggle with is: how? How do we see the lens we are looking through? Again, the answer is discipleship. Even for mature Christians, discipleship and community are the primary means by which we can begin to examine and understand and participate in the reformation of our own worldviews. As we walk closely with other Christians, especially in intentional, accountable, transparent discipleship relationships, the people around us are constantly exposing our assumptions. This happens when others confront us directly as we expose our thoughts and feelings in meaningful conversation, it happens as they observe us, and it happens as we observe them reacting to situations differently than we might.
As you consider the effects of worldview, if you're a Christian, look back along your walk with Jesus. I’m sure you can trace a line through all of the ways that God is reshaping you by bringing your worldview into line with His. It's inevitable. Every Christian will experience an ever-increasing love for others and distaste for sin. That's initiated by a change in worldview. I'm sure you can see too, how through that process God has made your relationship with Him more full and fulfilling, how He has drawn you closer to Himself and how your joy in Him has increased. If you desire more of this, and if you desire it for others, the key to seeing this happening is strong discipleship relationships based on an understanding of worldviews, ours and others, and how the gospel changes them.