What is a worldview?
You guessed it, it’s how you view the world. It is the perspective that you have of how the world functions, who is who, and what is what- it establishes what you see as the foundation of all things. This also includes what you view as right and what you view as wrong.
The concept of worldview comes from the German Weltanschauung (velt-,ӓn-,shaῡ-әn). Welt-world + Anschauung – view. Merriam Webster gives this definition: a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint.
A couple key observations about this word. Our worldview encompasses both our conception or understanding of the world, as well as our apprehensions or fears. Sometimes our world view is more greatly shaped by what we are afraid of than what we ‘think’ of. So maybe dealing with what our fears are can drastically shape and impact our worldview.
Secondly, our worldview is based on a specific standpoint. That means that our worldview is uniquely our own. We may share parts of our worldview with others around us, and there may be overlap with those who we share life with, but our worldview is shaped by our specific experience and placement in life.
With that in mind, what are the factors or specifics that impact our worldview?
The list could go on. And on. And on.
So many things impact our specific standpoint. Why are you standing where you are- looking out on the world from that point? Lots of reasons right! So what are the big ones? Or more importantly what are the factors we need and can pay attention to now to help us along the way?
That’s what we’re going to do. We are going to talk about those factors, and explore the ones that you want to, but first The Bible, yea!
Is the answer Jesus?
Well kind of yeah, have you done this before?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The first question that must be asked, since we all accept that we have worldviews, is, are some worldviews better than others? Let me clarify what I mean by better. I don’t necessarily mean, ‘more right’ or ‘more objectively true’, but more life giving and perhaps ones that remove the fears that make up our worldview which are unhealthy, untrue, and unnecessary.
The answer to that question, in my humble opinion, is yes. But perhaps not in the typical way one would think, coming from a Teen Sunday School class. I won’t be necessarily making the point that a worldview that stems from the church is the obvious “better”, “life giving” one. Yes, the worldview that take’s Jesus at his word, and embraces the amazing love of God, and the idea that he wants to lead us in to a new way of living embracing his shalom, yes that is better! (I guess I’ve shown my hand a little with that one). But it’s important to remember some worldviews that have come out of the church over the past 2000 years aren’t that helpful, or life giving, and may even be harmful, and may have built up more fear than was ever needed.
With that off my chest let’s take our first look at the basic foundational core that makes up much of the conflicting worldviews today. The worldview that says the tangible world is all there is, and if it cannot be counted or quantified it doesn’t exist verses (or alongside) the worldview that says it seems like there is something more, something bigger going on than what I can just touch, taste, smell, see and hear.
Cue Everything is Spiritual(35:51-43:18).
Have we thought of Jesus’ story in the light of competing worldviews before? Maybe we have, maybe this is new, either way it’s important to notice that Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God is going to impact our worldview.
But before we break that down, let’s check in with Pharaoh.
In the story of Exodus the Israelites are brought out of Egyptian slavery and into a new life as free people. To truly appreciate everything in this story, and what proceeds it we need to do a little bit of background work. Mainly how did Israel get into this situation in the first place.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Genesis starts with God creating the heavens and the earth.
But God doesn’t just create things to be all willy nilly (technical term), he creates them to have shalom. Shalom is a Hebrew word that is often translated as “peace”, but it means a lot more than peace.
Shalom is completeness, soundness, welfare, peace in all of human relationships and connection. That means human relationships with God, self, others and creation. Shalom is the ‘good’ that God is talking about when he looks out on the seventh day. Shalom is the life giving reality that God’s people are supposed to bring to the world around them thereby blessing the whole world. But again I’m getting ahead of myself.
So God creates, and he does so with shalom. Then humans decide that if we were to live our own way, outside of God’s shalom, we’d get to be in charge and we’d be better off. This doesn’t go so well in the story, and by Genesis 4, brothers are already killing each other. Thus, the story of God and humans is defined by the tension of God trying to bring shalom and humans ruining it for everyone.
In Genesis 12 we meet Abraham (Abram at the time). God makes a covenant with Abraham(a relationship, which would have been mind blowing for people of Abrahams day- the idea that a god would want to be in relationship with humans). As part of this covenant Abraham is told that his tribe would be a tribe that blessed the whole world (again mind blowing concepts – THIS God wants good things for people, and THIS God isn’t just the god of one tribe, but of the whole world.)
Thus begins the story of God’s people – Israel.
Jacob – who wrestles with God – renamed Israel (from the words struggle and god, pretty fitting name).
12 sons and at least 2 daughter.
A nation whose purpose was to be a blessing to the whole world. A nation whose identity and worldview was supposed to be built under the understanding that, while other nations served gods of wood and earth, they served THE God- the one who created wood, earth and all things! Now this nation has found themselves in slavery in Egypt, under Pharaoh (supposedly a God himself). Now cue the first chapter of Exodus.
So they [the Egyptians] put slave masters over them [the Israelites] to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Ramese as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
When you see the words “worked”, “labor” “work” in this text they are all forms of the Hebrew abad which means to serve.
This is how it shows up in the Hebrew bible.
serve – 227 times.
do – 15
till – 9
work – 5
worshipers – 5
service – 4
labour – 2
And a couple more verities with the same theme to round out the 290 times it’s used.
How remarkable is it that the Hebrew language captures the idea that what we work for, what we put our efforts into, is what we serve, what we worship!
So in effect the Israelites, who are supposed to be serving God and bringing about his shalom for the whole world, are serving another entity, another god – Egypt.
It’s completely understandable that their worldview is a little shattered. Isn’t our God supposed to be bigger than Egypt, isn’t our God supposed to take care of us? Where is he? Is Pharaoh stronger than our God?
(By the way there is a very interesting point to be made by this story about fact that the writer brings up the brick and mortar. Brick and mortar, for an ancient civilization, are high technology, we’re talking drones, and super satellites. And how is Egypt using this technology?- to oppress others. Imagine the power of this story for the Israelites in Exile! A super power is using its advanced technology to oppress us, (same as Babylon) but the God in this story is bigger than that, THIS God is about to do something about it! Imagine the power of this story for people in our world now!)
This takes us to the plagues (yes I now I’m skipping a lot of good stuff, but that’s for another time). What the heck are up with the plagues? Many people have spent many hours writing many pages of thoughts and analysis about the plagues. Most of these people are smarter than me, but what I want us to see about the plagues is that they are a giant worldview changer for the Israelites (and any Egyptians who are willing to pay attention).
The plagues wake the Israelites up to the fact that their God IS bigger than Pharaoh, and gives them hope. The plagues are a sweeping declaration to Israel (and again, anyone else willing to pay attention) that THIS God is bigger than our oppressors and our biggest fears – THIS God does still care about us even when we get trapped serving other things – THIS God wants to give us hope!
That’s why the Exodus story is so pivotal to the story of Israel. That’s why the writers in the Bible continually come back to it again and again. It is a worldview centering and shaping experience for them.
Which makes me think it’s a good time to jump back to Jesus (and again I know we’re skipping lots of good stuff – all for another time).
Jesus comes on the scene in the midst of Rome’s rule of Israel. Rome was another super-power, in a long line of super-powers whom had had occupation of Israel. The climate of the Jewish people was steamy to say the least. There were many who wanted to rise up and fight back against Rome, and there were many who were trying to utilize Rome for their own benefit, becoming oppressors in their own way and of their own people. So in the midst of all of this what is the prevailing message that Jesus has to share with his fellow Jews- God’s shalom.
Wait what? There isn’t going to be another Exodus? I thought God was a God how cared about his people and was bigger than their oppressors. Where’s the plagues, where’s the might?
Jesus reminds his tribe of their calling to bring shalom to the world- to be a blessing to all people. He reminds them that God loves them, but he also goes bigger and reminds them that God loves all people. That’s why Jesus spends so much time with the fringe people of society- those who others had cast off. He’s reminding his followers that Israel’s calling was to be a blessing, and they were to be people rooted in God’s love for them and his desire to bring shalom.
But of course the story doesn’t end there (and by the way it doesn’t actually end in the Bible, we’re still in the story, that’s the beautiful part!). The powers that be, (the religious rulers, and Rome) had a worldview that clashed with Jesus’, and they killed him. They put him on an execution stick, which Rome had become pretty proficient at using, because the God and world that Jesus was talking about didn’t line up with the God and world they wanted.
So that’s the end of the story? bummer…
NO that’s not the end! That’s the beautiful part!
God raises Jesus from the dead!
Can you appreciate the epic, giant, over the top, mind blowing, worldview changer that that is! That’s way bigger than the plagues, that’s way bigger than any trip through a sea on dry land, that’s way bigger than knowing I get to wear a halo and fluffy wings when I die!
God raises Jesus from the dead, validating that Jesus’ message of love and shalom is real and true and beautiful. That the kingdom of God is at hand, and that new life is available for us right here, right now!
God raises Jesus from the dead and says, “Is that all you’ve got? Death? Suffering? Pain? Nope, I’m bigger than those.” Rome’s ‘best’ wasn’t too good for God. The greatest oppressors of the day aren’t bigger than THIS God!
So what are your oppressors? What are the voices in your life that are affecting your worldview in a negative way?
Depression? Self image? Drugs? Hate? Fear?
Because the overwhelming message that God wants to give us, to shape who we are and how we view the world, is that, “I’m bigger than that oppressor, my love is bigger than that wound, the life I offer is more abundant than that stressful cycle, my hope is greater than that fear. Step into my love, step into this life, step into my shalom, and let’s do this together!”
Now that is a world-view worth having.