Part 1: Adopting a Christian Worldview
â€œI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.â€ (John 16:33)
At one point I was a child of this world â€“ a citizen of its system.
To understand what I mean by â€˜worldâ€™ and â€˜systemâ€™ all youâ€™ve got to do is watch a little TV or read the ads in a few magazines. The secular media is the voice of this worldâ€™s system. It tells you whatâ€™s good, whatâ€™s bad, where to eat, what to wear, and how bright your teeth should be. It even tells you what you should be worried about and the plan to make it all better. The media reflects the world â€“ the one you and I were born into.
Not every aspect of the worldâ€™s system is sinful in itself, as weâ€™ve come to define â€˜sinfulâ€™. But the worldâ€™s system is inherently sinful in that it stands against Godâ€™s. The world system is a kingdom in and of itself â€“ a usurper in Godâ€™s universe. Earth is a region in rebellion; a rebellion that will one day be put down when Godâ€™s kingdom restored on this planet.
So thatâ€™s the world we live in. Looking at it this way we can begin to see why the idea of a â€˜Christian worldviewâ€™ might be important.
Because we carry the DNA of our great-grandparents Adam and Eve we were born into a world that is in rebellion to its Maker, a world thatâ€™s dying.
But even before the world fell into rebellion, its Maker had a plan for restoring it to the kingdom. Just like we got born into this worldâ€™s system, we have to undergo a new birth to be reconciled to Godâ€™s kingdom. We have to be born again. That second birth isnâ€™t a physical birth; itâ€™s a spiritual one. Our bodies stay the way they are but our spirits are reborn. Our newborn spirits live in the reality of a new world even though our bodies are stuck in the old one.
Experiencing this second, spiritual birth involves dying to the spiritual side of our old first birth; that sin and rebellion DNA we inherited from Adam and Eve (Galatians 6:14). That means that even though our bodies look like the same old baggage, our spirits died to the worldâ€™s system and were reborn into Godâ€™s kingdom.
As citizens of Godâ€™s kingdom, we live in this world, but weâ€™re not of this world. Even though our bodies still reside here, our spirits are no longer a part of this worldâ€™s system. We live by the laws of our citizenship in Godâ€™s kingdom while weâ€™re living in the worldâ€™s system.
What this means is that when the world goes through tough times, we as physical residents are affected, we go through tough times too; but as spiritual aliens are not ultimately affected. Spiritual citizens of this world are sold out to its system. They are ultimately affected by what in happens in the world.
At least once in our lives weâ€™ve heard or read a story about a man who had everything – money, prestige and power – committing suicide. It doesnâ€™t make sense to us. Why would someone with, apparently so much going for him take his own life. And then later we find out that this manâ€™s life had been a house of cards and it had all fallen down. He had lost everything in this world he considered valuable â€“ his money, prestige and power â€“ and because he was truly a citizen of this world, sold out to its system and he had nothing left, he took his own life. He was ultimately affected by the system of this world.
A few months ago I wrote about a young man who, according to the worldâ€™s system, had everything â€“ a trust fund, fully furnished mortgage-free home, Mercedes, Rolex, exciting career and social possibilities â€“ and he gave it all away to become a kitchen worker in a Christian guest house in Israel. Because he had died to this worldâ€™s system and been reborn into a new spiritual world all the things he owned he no longer considered everything (I John 2:15-17).
We are residents of this world but not citizens. We have been reborn into the kingdom of God. We live in this world and so we are affected by what happens here; but, because we live here as â€˜strangersâ€™ (I Peter 2:11), what happens here does not affect us ultimately.
Only our current bodies â€“ the remnant of our physical birth into this world and our past citizenship â€“ can be affected by what happens in this world. Our spirits are freed from this worldâ€™s system when we die to it and are reborn into Godâ€™s kingdom. Our minds are renewed as we exercise our new spiritual freedom from this worldâ€™s system. And one day we will have new bodies to match our new spirit â€“ immune to pain and death.
Until then, what can this world do to us? It can exert its influence over our current bodies, but not our spirits or our minds. The worst thing the world can do to us is to kill our bodies, and since in their present form theyâ€™re already given over to death, and we know that our spirits have already been reborn and canâ€™t be touched by anything in this worldâ€™s system, and that weâ€™re guaranteed to one day receive new indestructible bodies to match our eternal spirits, the worst that can happen to us in this world is only temporary and itâ€™s eventual anyway. Not much of a threat when you consider it in the big picture.
When the worldâ€™s system swings from good to bad, or for that matter, from bad to good; our reaction as â€˜strangersâ€™ should be tempered by the fact that whatever happens here doesnâ€™t ultimately affect our fate.
We live here; our bodies are earthly vessels even if our spirits live forever. Weâ€™re affected by what happens here. We get hungry when thereâ€™s no food. We canâ€™t pay our power bills when thereâ€™s no income. We may be living in a world system thatâ€™s in crisis right now, but we donâ€™t have to be in crisis. We have our citizenship in another kingdom. As songwriter Larry Norman said, â€œWeâ€™re only visiting this planet.â€
But what about right now? How do we cope with the needs of our current bodies while weâ€™re visiting this planet, and the planet ainâ€™t doing so well? There are advantages to having our citizenship in another kingdom. The King himself promises us his own economic security program while weâ€™re here.
â€œSo do not worry, saying, â€˜What shall we eat?â€™ or â€˜What shall we drink?â€™ or â€˜What shall we wear?â€™ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.â€ (Matthew 6:31-33)
Having a â€˜Christian worldviewâ€™ means viewing the world from Christâ€™s perspective. Itâ€™s a perspective that understands that as citizens of His kingdom we canâ€™t be ultimately affected by anything that happens here. And even while weâ€™re here, He personally promises to meet our needs. The starting point for living and thriving in this world, even in the toughest times, is knowing which world you really belong to.