Friday, June 30, 2006

How Our Worldview Affects Everyday Life: Part 1

Sometimes when I discuss worldviews, I feel I need to define myself. This is one of those occasions. Our lifestyles and ways of relating to our world stem from our worldview perspective. It is more than a political viewpoint, a religious affiliation, or cultural upbringing. The worldviews that inform or dictate our sense of how the world works, what is right or wrong, and what are the solutions to our world's problems are the worldviews I am referring to.

Our underlying worldview is not always comprehensive because we don't always pay attention to it. In some cases, we don't take it very seriously, or maybe don't even want to. We have the ability to live with congnitive dissonance — the ability to accept competing ideas. So we can get along without considering it.

But, whether we consider it, or understand it is not important, because we are influenced by it anyway. The question about worldviews is not whether we have one, but is it comprehensive. Does our worldview answer the big questions of life sufficiently and in an integrated manner?

The questions our worldview must answer are:

  • Where did we come from?
    • Who or what is responsible for our conscience being?
    • What are the implications?

  • Why are we here?
    • Do we have a purpose for being? Why do we exist?
    • If we have a purpose, can we know it?
    • How would we know if we fulfilled it?

  • Where are we going?
    • What went wrong?
    • What is the solution or solutions that will bring about the right state of all things?
    • What is our destiny?

This is just a start.

We all have ideas about these big questions, even if it is to ignore them. But they drive what we believe about our world. They influence what we think about our roles in this life. It dictates our behaviors.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Church as a Form of Grammar

How you see the church is an indication of what you believe about Jesus. The two are inseparable. The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is the Temple built by Christ. The Church is the culmination of God's plan for heaven and earth. So it follows that what we feel about Jesus is reflected in our reactions to the term church.

The best example of this is how we use the word church when we speak. Do we use it as a noun, verb, preposition, or adjective? I don't mean using the word in these ways literally, but using it in the same spirit these forms of grammar represent. Each of these ways of relating to the church has an implication for how we view Jesus.


The church is seen only as an entity. It is like an organization with functions, duties, mission statements, and culture. We refer to the church as an it. We become members by joining it. The structure is sometimes seen as a building or club formed out of a shared identity: Christian. (I.e. "The Church is responsible for the state of our culture.") This person likely sees Christ as an inactive figure-head.


Here the church is viewed as something one does. "We are having church this morning!" It is seen as an activity one participates in for various results — to please God, to be good; to get right; to get energized; to be entertained. This person likely sees Christ as an employer.


The person that uses the word as a preposition doesn't see the church as relevant. They use it to connect two ideas, but it serves no other purpose. (I.e. "I plan to go to church to find a mate?") This person likely sees Christ as irrelevant or inconsequential to their life and plans.


For this person, the Church is more than a place or entity. It describes a type of people. They see the word church as an attempt to explain a complex idea. They view it as a collection, group, gathering, or community of people who believe and follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles. They exist throughout time, different locations, and among different segments of society. But their identifying marks are their allegiance to Christ, to each other, to the message of salvation, and to their shared experiences of persecutions. (I.e. "We are the Church.")

How do you use the word?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What Does God Want?

I know someone who is getting married.

Previously, he had gotten married to his live-in girlfriend, and then divorced her. They weren't getting along. Even though they had lived together for many years, their marriage was rocky. There was jealousy, rivalry, and his then-wife was argumentative (according to his assessment).

During one of their separations, he met another woman who would become his girlfriend. When his divorced was finalized, he and his new girlfriend moved in together. They got along very well, and within a few months they decide to get married.

I objected. I thought it was a bad idea to enter into another relationship without working out the issues that caused him to seek out the relationship in the first place.

In response, he didn't like my objections, saying, "I thought you Christians liked marriage. Don't you guys always talk about marriage and how it is so moral compared to living together. You, of all people, should be all for this. Aren't I doing the right thing? Wouldn't your God approve?"

The answer to that question is not what he would expect.

Often, Christians get too involved in the issues of morality, not the causes. What I mean is that we often communicate to the world that God is more interested in our moral behavior than why we behave the way we do. God's solution for our wrong behavior is to fix the behavior, or do the right behaviors — then everything will be okay.

That cannot be further from the truth. God saw our problem as terminal, not cosmetic. We are dead to God. Nothing short of resurrection would suffice. Dead people cannot live, no matter what we tell them to do. Dead people cannot act alive, even if we prop them up. Dead people cannot do the things living people can do, no matter how hard we want them to try.

What God requires of us is not marriage or loving relationships. It is a life that glorifies Him. Therefore, the love we show, the freedom we experience, and the faith we demonstrate is not for our benefit alone. We don't exist to simply make the world a better place (according to how we define it), or to make a difference (really to feel self-important). We exist to glorify God in living with the gusto God has gifted each of us with. If we make the world a better place, it is the byproduct of living to please God. If we make a difference, it is the natural result of living out our purpose.

For example, a boy growing up may aspire to eat pizza everyday. If he chooses to indulge his desire for pizza, the irony is that he will eventually lose the enjoyment of pizza, and he will also lose the freedom of good health. But if he lives for God, he may have to deny himself pizza for a time, but his life becomes full and rich with all that God has to offer. And by denying himself pizza for this higher purpose, he will enjoy greater things. And maybe, one day, enjoy the pizza in a new way never imagined.