I have been left wondering whether we have had a major failure of Christian teaching and leadership… after all there must be a biblical worldview, mustn’t there?
Of course there is… it’s just that most people who call themselves Christian have a worldview shaped by all sorts of forces other than the bible.
Last November I gave a sermon called “How and Why do I read the bible?,” where I unpacked the 6 core elements of a Biblical worldview through which we could discern truth.
None of the six things were in any way controversial, and yet all of them are revolutionary in terms of our understanding of ourselves and the world.
I think part of the challenge is that as the Christian church, we have learned to give intellectual assent to these truths and not let them shape how we think and live.
The six truths of the bible basically chart the story of the bible from the start of Genesis through to the end of Revelation. They are:
- All people are created in the image of God. (As we see in Genesis 1-2) Somehow we have forgotten this core truth of scripture and divided the world into “us” and “them.” The teachers of the law did that in Jesus’s time and he was always quick to step beyond the artificial (and often racial) boundaries they established. This truth means that evangelism isn’t a sales pitch, it is helping people hear the own eternal part of their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
- We all choose to go our own way rather than God’s way, and the consequences are real for each of us. (As we see in Genesis 3). One of the biggest lies that Christians unconsciously believe is that they have to “have it together,” and we are pretty rough on each other when it turns out we don’t. We are also pretty rough on people who don’t live according to the moral code we believe. I am increasingly of the view that Christians need to think about what the bible calls “sin” in a much deeper way. We need to acknowledge the fact that there is a messy, self-centred side to all of us, and as we do we start to find it easier to be merciful to others who also don’t have it all together.
- Despite our brokenness and self centeredness the God of the universe is continually reaching for relationship with us (as we see in the rest of the Old Testament.) The God who reveals himself to Moses in Exodus 34 is loving and compassionate and also just. He wants to restore his creation and is continually journeying with broken people to invite them back into relationship. He chose the Jewish people to be his representatives in the world, to reveal his heart to a world that was desperately searching. He has never stopped reaching out for relationship.
- The Carpenter from Nazareth shows the way and then makes the way for reconciliation and relationship as he finally fulfills the purpose of the Jewish nation. (as we see in the Gospels) Jesus came and lived life according to a wholly different playbook. He showed that rather than self-interest, self-sacrifice is the path to real life and he invited people to follow him as the way, the truth and the life.
- Jesus sends his church to be his ambassadors in a world that is still desperately searching. (As we see from the book of Acts through to Revelation chapter 20.) The Christian church is meant to be a unified symbol of the very life of Jesus Christ. People are meant to look at us, wherever they bump into us, and glimpse the hope that they are longing for. Church is not meant to be a weekly “service,” it is meant to be a counter-cultural way of life that models a wholly new way of being human.
- This story ends up very well. (As we see in Revelation 21-22) There is going to be a time when everything will finally make sense, when we will finally be able to fully enjoy our whole lives, where all the ups and downs we have been through to this point, will feel as though they were nothing compared to the reality we are then experiencing. This is the future hope of every Christian that puts the whole of life in perspective.
This is the abridged version of what I understand a biblical worldview actually is. Too often we have preached a watered down, deformed kind of Christianity that doesn’t bring hope or give someone bearings in how to navigate life.
A biblical worldview gives a framework that enables me to know what my job is as a father, husband, employee or citizen. A biblical worldview affects every area of my life.
As I reflect on my journey over the past 25 years in Christian ministry, I am more and more convinced that the gospel the Western world has largely rejected never was the gospel in the first place.
As we understand the remarkable story the Bible is actually telling it changes everything.