When I turned 44, my physician gave me the bad news. “Presbyopia.” The diagnosis explained why I couldn’t read the printed page without holding it at arm’s length. Sometimes even doing that didn’t help. It took years before I felt comfortable wearing reading glasses.
In my younger days – my 40s and 50s I call my younger days – I usually carried them in my shirt pocket and pulled them out only when absolutely necessary.
That's where they were, in my shirt pocket, many years ago while Nancy and I were enjoying our meal at a local Italian restaurant. It wasn't until my eyes started to burn from the eyestrain that I finally pulled them from my pocket. And then – for the first time that evening – I saw them: Water droplets on my iced tea glass. Spots of tomato sauce beneath my plate. Creases in the tablecloth.
How did I sit at the table for nearly an hour and not notice them? Stains and wrinkles which had blurred into nondescript shapes and patterns suddenly danced and shouted for attention. For a few moments I played with my glasses, shifting them on my nose, marveling at how different things look when you can really see.
So, what is my point? Well, it is this. Just like most of us need eyeglasses to view our world better and more accurately, we all need help to have a better and more accurate worldview.
The title of my message today is: “What is Your Worldview? But before we look at that question, let me first define the term. A “worldview” refers to the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world around us – the culture, the social milieu, politics, entertainment, finances, and so forth. A person’s ‘worldview’ is comprised of a collection of beliefs that affects every area of our life, - like I just said, from money to morality, from politics to art.
There are two basic worldviews – one biblically based and the other pagan. I use the term pagan not as a pejorative, but simply to differentiate between those who adhere to the teachings of the whole of Scripture, and those who do so only in part, or not at all.
All worldviews – pagan (of which there are many forms) and Christian – ask and answer three basic questions: 1) Who are we? 2) How did we get here? and 3) Where are we going?
Generally speaking, the pagan answers these questions this way: We are a propitious combination – a lucky combination – of atoms and molecules. We got here through an eons-long process of evolutionary accidents. We are all going to die and after that, disappear into nothingness.
A prevalent worldview today is naturalism. Naturalism – much like its cousin, Rationalism – denies the supernatural. It grounds itself in the belief that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena. There is no such thing as ‘miracles’ – nor is there a need for such supernatural interventions. Naturalism states that we are merely the product of random acts of nature with no real purpose.
Richard Dawkins, a proponent of Naturalism, is a well-known evolutionary biologist and author. In his book, River Out of Eden, Dawkins wrote: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
On the other hand, the Christian worldview (for my purposes today, this is synonymous with a Biblical worldview), answers those questions this way:
1) We are God’s creation, designed to govern the world and have eternal fellowship with Him (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:15). 2) We have all sinned against God and subjected the whole world to a curse (Genesis 3). 3) God Himself has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10), and will one day restore creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17-25).
A Christian worldview instructs us to believe in moral absolutes, miracles, human dignity, and the possibility of redemption. On the other hand, the pagan worldview – whose root is the evolutionary ‘survival of the strongest’ – leads to what we see every day on the cable news networks: Chaos. Fear. Anger. Selfishness. Covetousness. Murder. Slavery. Violence. This worldview is accurately described by St James (4:1-2a) in his epistle:
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”
So, to summarize: An individual’s worldview is his “big picture.” It’s a way of harmonizing all of his or her beliefs about the world. A person’s worldview is the basis by which he or she makes daily decisions and, therefore, is inextricably connected with his view of morality – of right and wrong.
By the way, according to a recent Barna survey, only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview. To say it another way, only 17 out of 100 Christians consider the Bible as the final authority regarding faith and morals.
So, in the time remaining, let’s focus our attention on what IS a Biblical worldview. And let me first say this:
A fully committed, no compromise Christian worldview will make us odious – yes, odious to MOST people around us. That includes some of our families. Be aware of this. Be prepared for this.
Paul wrote: (See 1 Corinthians 1:18). “For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And the Lord Jesus warned: (Matthew 10:34-36) “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
Again: Be aware of this. Be prepared for this.
A truly Biblical worldview is the same worldview Jesus and the apostles held. For the sake of time, I’ve condensed the elements of a Biblical worldview into four basic points. We don’t have time today to explore each of them, so we will continue with this subject next time. But for now, here in very simplified form are the elements of a Biblical worldview. And to be clear, a Biblical worldview is the ONLY worldview that can save us from our own personal, cultural, and social disasters.
Number one:’ The God of Genesis chapter 1 is the ONLY true God. There is no other God beside Him. ALL other so-called gods are satanic lies. I will say that again for emphasis: All other so-called gods are satanic fabrications. They are all lies from the Father of lies. (see John 8:44)
We know God exists because he is clearly revealed in nature. No one here would be so foolish to suggest my iPhone, as intricately designed and built as it is, no one would suggest my phone just happened to appear by an accident of random electrons bouncing into and off of each other. Even over the course of, as they say, billions of years, no intelligent person would suggest such a mockery.
Many of you know I am trained as a registered nurse. I have a Master’s Degree in Medical-Surgical Nursing. I practiced at the bedside for 25 years and then as a nursing instructor at the college and university levels for another decade or so. As a nursing instructor, I trained student nurses in the enormously complex and intricate interactions of our various body systems that keep us alive -- such as cardiac, pulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal, and so forth.
Because of my training in the sciences, I am continually flabbergasted when I speak with people who are even marginally knowledgeable of physics, anatomy, biology, and physiology – how can they look at the human body and honestly doubt there was an intelligent designer behind it all.
Indeed, how can they look at nature itself and doubt the existence of an intelligent designer of it all? As the psalmist wrote: (Psalm 19:1-2)
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; Night after night they reveal knowledge.”
St. Paul added: (Romans 1:20) “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
I will say this – and I have said it many times before – people do not doubt the existence of God for intellectual reasons. They deny His existence for MORAL reasons. And they should not think God is fooled by their excuses.
Jesus addressed this point quite clearly in John’s gospel: (John 3:19-20) “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
So, God simply ‘is.’ There are no other gods besides Him.
You might think this point needs no further mention. But it does. According to a 2019 Pew research report, more than a quarter of Americans consider themselves as atheist, agnostic, or ‘nothing in particular.’ Only ten years ago the number of self-described atheists, agnostics, and ‘nothings’ was 17%. Thus, there has been an increase of 9% in the last decade.
That means, statistically speaking, some 26% of those in the dining room outside those doors consider themselves either atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular. So, yes, it is important to emphasize the point of the existence of the God of Genesis chapter one.
So, who is He? How is He revealed for us in Genesis One and throughout the entire length of Biblical instruction?
Well, for one thing, He is NOT the same as the universe, as some religions teach. He is not PART of the universe, as some others teach. He CREATED the universe and everything in it. He is eternal and omniscient. He knows everything even before it happens. That means He knew at the creation of the universe that you and I would be in this room at this time on this day listening to this message. It means He knows our thoughts, too.
Psalm 139:3-4 “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.”
God is omnipresent. That means He is in ALL places in the universe at the same time. Psalm 139:7-12 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I . . dwell in the remotest part of the sea . . . Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.”
Scripture assures us, God is love. It was in love He created mankind. I like how the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Him: “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in Himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life.”
And here is 1 John 4:10 - “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Think for a moment about God and His love for YOU, sinful sinner as you are, as I am. The infinitely perfect Creator created us to have intimate fellowship with Him, to love Him, to walk hand in hand with Him – in THIS life – and intimate and loving fellowship with Him in the next.
Parents can kind of understand God's heart here. Why do most parents have children? Not to rule over them. Not to abuse them. Not to enslave them. We have children because we want to love them, AND – hopefully – to receive love FROM them.
Wasn’t it a joy to our hearts when our little children snuggled in our laps? Didn’t we swell with joy when they spontaneously looked up at us and said, “I love you”?
And for some of you here – not all, I know – but for some of you for whom it is still true – isn’t it a joy now when your children WANT to be with you? Doesn’t it thrill your heart when they go out of their way to call and visit, when they still want to have intimate fellowship with you?
But not all of us have that joy of love reciprocated by our adult children – just as our Father in heaven does not have the joy of receiving reciprocated love from those whom He created so He could love them.
Here is a question you might ask yourself: Would you have had children if you knew they would grow up and not love you?
Some would say, ‘no.’ The hurt is just too great, knowing your adult children want little to do with you. BUT others of you would say that you WOULD still have children, even if you knew the outcome would be rejection. You would still have had children because you wanted children to love. AND, even though your heartache is so great, you STILL love them.
I think that’s similar to God's love for us. In his omniscience He knew who would grow up to love him . . . and who would grow up to reject him.
But he creates us anyway –because HE wants to love US. And, how do we know of His love for us . . . and even for those who do not love Him in return? How do we know He created us to have fellowship with each of us both now and throughout eternity? How do we know these things about God?
Well as I mentioned earlier, nature itself reveals God's EXISTENCE, but no one could ever know the precious details of WHO God is in His relationship with us – His inestimable, immeasurable, inexplicable love for us – no one could know any of it unless He chose to tell us AND to show us just what we all mean to His heart.
And what is the instrument God uses to reveal Himself to us, to unveil for us His character, His heart, His LOVE for us?
The answer to this question is one of the fundamental elements that forms the Christian’s biblical worldview. It is what guides the Christian’s lifestyle regarding moral absolutes, about miracles, about human dignity, and about eternal redemption.
I hope you will join us next week as we explore this further.